Newcastle United hire Rafael Benitez as new manager

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Rafael Benitez has been appointed as Newcastle United’s new manager.

On the same day Newcastle announced the firing of Steve McClaren, the Magpies acted swiftly to name his replacement with the Spanish coach arriving at St James’ Park on a three-year contract.

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Apparently Benitez, 55, does have a break clause in the contract which would allow him to leave at the end of this season should Newcastle be relegated from the Premier League.

Benitez will take charge of Newcastle’s final 10 games of the 2015-16 season and has a lot of work to do to save them from the drop.

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Newcastle currently sits in 19th spot in the table, just one point off safety as they battle with bitter North East rivals Sunderland and struggling Norwich City to stay out of the drop zone.

In a statement released on the club website, Newcastle called Benitez “one of Europe’s top managers” and also announced that his extensive backroom team would join him, replacing McClaren’s staff immediately.

“I have the pleasure to confirm I have committed to a legendary English club, with the massive challenge of remaining part of the Premier League,” Benitez said. “It will be a challenge not just for me and my staff but for the players, the Club and the fans. All of us must push together in the same direction and with the same target in mind. This is the reason why I’m going to ask for your total support to successfully complete this task.

“Personally, it means my return to the Premier League, closer to my home and my family. I can’t be happier. C’mon Toon Army! The club and I need your total involvement!”

One of the biggest factors in the release was that he was named as the new “manager” and not “head coach” as a huge reshuffle in how the club is run is expected.

The Spanish coach returns to the Premier League for the third time, as he previously managed Liverpool for six years — leading the Reds to the UEFA Champions League title — and had a short stint in charge as Chelsea were he won the UEFA Europa League. He also won the La Liga title twice and the Europa League with Valencia in the past, and has managed some huge clubs.

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Most recently he was fired by Real Madrid in January but his vast experience in England, Italy and Spain will be valuable in Newcastle’s battle against relegation.

This hire is a massive coup for the Magpies and if Benitez can keep them up this season, he will be given the chance to overhaul the squad as he tries to bring back the glory days.

First up for the former Benitez is a trip to league leaders Leicester City on Monday (Watch live, 4 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra), while a crucial Tyne-Wear derby hovers on the horizon on Mar. 20.