Newcastle cult hero Peter Withe in takeover warning for club and what Rafa Benitez must do with signings

Amanda Staveley
Amanda Staveley

Former Newcastle United striker Peter Withe has warned that takeover talk could destabilise the club – but believes that Rafa Benitez can keep the Magpies in the Premier League.

Newcastle sit 15th place in the table after saturday’s 3-1 defeat at Chelsea extended their run without a league win to six games.

Peter Withe was back in the region to promote his autobiography

Peter Withe was back in the region to promote his autobiography

They are five points clear of Roy Hodgson’s Crystal Palace, who occupy the third and final relegation spot.

Newcastle are without a win since the 1-0 home win against over Palace in mid-October, losing five of their last six games.

But Withe still believes that Benitez’s experience will help the Magpies find consistency and secure their place in the Premier League next season – especially if they can give him some money to spend next month.

He said “Rafa has done brilliantly, he is a very experienced manager.

“If they can keep him, give him a few bob in the transfer window and let him make a few signings, then there is no reason why they can’t kick on.

“It’s obvious that they aren’t going to be competing with Manchester United, Chelsea or Manchester City.

“I would like to think he could (keep Newcastle in the Premier League).

“I have seen them play and they’ve lost games they should’ve won and they’ve won games they should have lost.

“They need consistency and if Rafa can bring that, there is no reason why they can’t survive in the Premier League.”

Off-field matters have dominated the talk around St James’s Park recently, with talk of a takeover bid from Amanda Staveley’s PCP Partners group having sent a buzz of excitement around the Gallowgate faithful.

Toon owner Mike Ashley has revealed he hopes to sell the club before Christmas, and any new buyers would potentially be able to give Benitez an increased transfer kitty for the January sales.

However, Withe is wary of the effect that a potential takeover can have on a club, pointing to former club Aston Villa as an example of the negative impact that off-field distractions can have.

“I think it’s always a risk that a club can be destablised when takeover talks happen,” said Withe, who won the European Cup with Villa after leaving United.

“It happened at my old club Aston Villa.

“New owners came in and people wonder just how much they will change.

“It really has an effect on the club as a whole.

“But the most important thing in a football club is what happens on the pitch. Get it right on the pitch and everything goes right.

“I would like to think that the club, whether it’s the current owner, or a new owner, will carry it forward.”

With the January transfer window just weeks away now, speculation has already began on how much money Magpies boss Benitez will have at his disposal.

The former Liverpool manager revealed that a takeover would mean a slight boost to the coffers as he looks to add some strike-power to his squad.

But former European Cup winner Withe thinks that Benitez will still have to look for bargains in an already-inflated transfer market.

“They got promotion and they did well to do that, but now they have to build,” explained the former Nottingham Forest striker.

“People talk about needing £50 million to spend, that’s nothing now sadly.

“Look at Manchester United, they spent £89 million on one player.

“You have to get your scouts, they have to be top-notch and they have to find the talent.

“Leicester City did it and Newcastle have to do the same thing.”