CONFIRMED: Rafa Benitez appointed Newcastle manager

Rafa Benitez
Rafa Benitez

Rafa Benitez has been appointed Newcastle United's new manager.

The Spaniard has signed a three-year deal with a get-out clause should the club be relegated to the Championship.

Benitez arrived at St James's Park earlier today for talks with managing director Lee Charnley and he will meet the players this afternoon.

And the 55-year-old said: "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.

"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!"

Charnley dismissed Steve McClaren as head coach earlier today in the wake of a disastrous run of results.

"I am very pleased to welcome Rafa Benitez to the club. In Rafa we have, without doubt, secured the services of one of Europe's top managers," said Charnley.

"He has managed some of the most successful teams at the very highest level of the game and we are proud to now have him as our manager.

"Our sole focus now is to give our full support to Rafa, his coaching team and the players in order to secure our status in the Premier League.

"I would like to place on record my sincere thanks to Paul Simpson, Alessandro Schoenmaker and Steve Black for their service to the club."

Newcastle, 19th in the Premier League and a point adrift of safety, take on Leicester City at the King Power Stadium on Monday night.