WATCH: Fans welcome Newcastle United's appointment of Rafa Benitez to replace Steve McClaren
Rafa Benitez's appointment as Newcastle United manager should breathe new life into the club's season - but it may have come too late.
That was the general view of the supporters the Gazette spoke to after Benitez replaced Steve McClaren in the St James's Park hotseat.
The Spaniard has signed a three-year deal with the Magpies, but takes over a side 19th in the Premier League table, one point from safety with 10 games left.
The news of McClaren's sacking was welcomed by the supporters we spoke to, who now hope there is enough time left for Benitez to turn things around.
Newcastle fan Eric Parker, 70, said: "It is wonderful news that McClaren has gone. I had been sat on the edge of my seat for days waiting for it to be announced.
"At any other club, he would have been gone a long time ago. He just kept chopping and changing the team too often, and it never looked right. We had a Â£15million striker on the bench in the last game.
"He is thought of as a decent coach with a lot of experience, but he has many faults as a manager, particularly with his man-management.
"It's good that Benitez has come in, but it will be a difficult first game for him at Leicester on Monday."
Gazette seller Alan Robb, 57, was at McClaren's final game in charge of Newcastle on Saturday as they were beaten 3-1 at home by Bournemouth.
He said: "I'm over the moon that they've sacked McClaren. He did nothing for the club and we would have definitely gone down with him in charge.
"He kept saying the same things in his interviews and insisting that things were getting better, but they just weren't.
"I was at the game against Bournemouth, and that was the worst Newcastle performance I've seen for a long time.
"I think Benitez will be able to turn the team around. McClaren had lost the players, but hopefully Benitez will be able to do something with them.
"Hopefully he'll be able to keep us up."
Electrical contractor Steve Davison, 57, added: "Steve McClaren should never have been appointed by Newcastle in the first place.
"The players never gave 100% for him, and it just never looked like it was going to work.
"They've gone for Benitez, and you can't really go wrong with him.
"Everyone can see what he has done in the game, and the amount of trophies he has won.
"I'm just glad they didn't go for David Moyes, because he has failed in his last two jobs big-time."
Brian Lawson, 56, is a supporter of Northern League side South Shields, and feels either Newcastle or Sunderland will be relegated this season, despite the appointment of Benitez.
He said: "This is news that has been coming for weeks.
"McClaren has been banging on about the same thing every week, and they've shown no real signs of improvement.
"The Bournemouth game was probably the last straw.
"You can only work with the tools you've got, though, and it's not going to be easy for Benitez.
"I think one of the two North East clubs will go down, so I'm glad that I'm a neutral in it, because I support South Shields.
"I prefer watching Shields and local football now, because football at the top level is just not enjoyable any more."
Meanwhile, Newcastle supporter Colin Reay, from South Shields, added: "I think it's the right decision, but the problem at Newcastle isn't really the manager, it's those above him.
"It just hasn't been run properly for a long time, and that has affected the players on the pitch.
"Whenever a good player comes along, they're sold. The managers don't have the tools to work with.
"I still think they'll go down with Benitez in charge, because a lot of the damage has already been done.
"You have to remember that McClaren is an ex-England manager, and if he can't keep us up, who can?"
Another fan, Ted Bain, said: "It seemed like McClaren had lost the dressing room, and when that happens, there is only usually one outcome.
"The players didn't seem to be playing for him, and they need to take a lot of the blame as well.
"They're getting paid far too much and are just not delivering."