'Timing' - Sky pundit responds to Jeff Stelling question on potential Benitez return to Newcastle

Sky Sports pundit Kris Boyd has admitted that he “very much” doubts that Rafa Benitez will return to Newcastle United in the near future.
Rafael Benitez. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)Rafael Benitez. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Rafael Benitez. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

The Spaniard made headlines on Saturday when he left Chinese outfit Dalian Professional amid fears about his family’s safety during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Many Toon fans took to social media in the aftermath of the announcement to express their cautious optimism about an unlikely reunion with the popular 60-year-old, but Boyd has been quick to poor cold water over their hopes.

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Speaking on Sky Sports’ Soccer Saturday, host Jeff Stelling said: “Every Newcastle fan will be aware by now that today, Rafa Benitez has left his job in the Chinese Super League.

"Could you see it? Could you see Rafa going back to Newcastle?”

Boyd responded: “I very much doubt that, Jeff.

"I think it’s maybe just been a bit of timing, with him leaving earlier and Steve Bruce being under pressure.

"Benitez left Newcastle because of problems that were going on in the first place.

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"Steve Bruce has inherited that. This is not just Steve Bruce’s fault.

“This is a club that has been in decline for a number of years, that has been to the Championship. You’d think, okay, you’ve been down there, you’ve come back up to the Premier League and you realise that you don’t want to go back down there.

"Go and spend a bit of money, but you look at the transfers and the money that has been spent – the players have been nowhere near good enough.

"The thing that doesn’t help managers when they go to the north east is that Newcastle fans demand this attacking football, and there’s nobody there to do it.”

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Paul Merson echoed Boyd’s sentiments, and urged supporters to turn their ire towards Bruce’s under-performing squad.

He said: “At Sheffield United, they weren’t good.

"But let’s remember, his winger gets sent off, two bookings in five minutes.

"Players are letting him down. Stop looking at Steve Bruce all the time and start looking at these players.

“They’re Premier League players – start playing like Premier League players! It’s an easy option to say, ‘Oh, it’s Steve Bruce’.

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"This guy has been around for a long time. He’s a top manager.

"He can only play with what he’s got.”