Rafa Benitez and Newcastle are a 'match made in heaven' says former United hero

Kevin Keegan & Terry McDermott
Kevin Keegan & Terry McDermott

Former midfielder and coach Terry McDermott believes manager Rafa Benitez and Newcastle United are a 'match made in heaven'.

But the Scouser, who had four spells at St James's Park, twice as a player and twice as a coach, thinks things will only work if owner Mike Ashley backs Benitez in the summer transfer market.

It has been widely reported that the Spaniard was not given the funds he believed would be made available in the last transfer window.

As a result United failed to add to their squad in January.

And McDermott hopes the club's owner will not make the same mistake again, because it risks breaking up the perfect marriage at Newcastle.

"The Toon Army and Rafa is a match made in heaven," said the 65-year-old.

"He’s a winner and, please God, he stays at Newcastle. That’s absolutely imperative.

"And, please God, if they do go up, Rafa will be given the money to establish them in the top half of the Premier League.

“For a club of Newcastle’s size and history to have been relegated twice in seven years is astonishing. It can’t be allowed to happen again.

"Hopefully Mike Ashley will provide the funds to improve the squad and make sure they come back stronger but for now, the most important thing is that Newcastle finish the job and do go up – because if they don’t do it this year you do wonder if Rafa will stay."

McDermott had a front row seat the last time United felt they could be at the start of something special.

He was part of Kevin Keegan's coaching staff in 2008 when the Magpies' hero's second spell as manager came to an acrimonious end.

So, McDermott is well placed to issue a warning to the owner.

"It would have been a disaster if Newcastle had not kept Rafa last summer after they were relegated," he said.

"He’s a very, very shrewd man – you don’t win the Champions League at Liverpool, and reach another final two years later, if you don’t know your way round a football pitch.

"If he had not stuck around, I’m not sure they would have been anywhere near going straight back up this year, certainly not as close as they are now."