Will be Benitez be in charge to help Newcastle bounce back from Championship?
Holly Thackeray | May 12, 2016
Sunderland’s spectacular and emphatic 3-0 thrashing of Everton on Wednesday evening made it official; Newcastle United will play Championship football next campaign, having failed to claw their way out of the Premier League relegation scrap.
The Magpies will fall out of their nest and through the trap door at the end of term, as the most expensively assembled side to have slipped into England’s second tier, with just 34 points from 37 games and a goal difference of -25.
Owner Mike Ashley also forked out over £75m across the past two transfer windows, splashing out on the likes of Jonjo Shelvey and Andros Towsend in January as a bid to avoid relegation, but will now miss out on the crucial Premier League TV money.
Yet, for neutral punters there is potentially much profit to be had, as customers can take advantage of Coral’s excellent special offers, and the Magpies’ misfortune, with Newcastle odds for next season.
Benitez to taste Championship football?
The biggest question buzzing around Tyneside in the wake of relegation furor, is whether only recently appointed boss Rafael Benitez will extend his stay at St James’ Park.
Spanish tactician Benitez only inked a three-year deal back in March but has a break clause in his contract that should allow him to depart now Newcastle are confirmed to have dropped down divisions.
Could a Champions League-winning coach conceivably ply his trade in the Championship, especially with top notch international roles such as the Spain job potentially up for grabs post-Euro 2016?
Coral have the ex-Liverpool and Napoli gaffer priced at an odds-on 8/15 not to still be at Newcastle for the opening day of the 2016/17 Championship season, as it was widely expected by many outlets that the 55-year-old would seek pastures new and a prestige post if he could not be the catalyst for a great escape.
However, latest reports suggest Benitez may be swayed by the passionate Toon Army fanbase and could be tempted to stay by significant investment in the club.
The reality is, although Benitez revived his reputation at Napoli, failures at Inter Milan and Real Madrid have somewhat stained the Anfield hero’s record after achieving great things for Liverpool and Valencia earlier in his coaching career.
Although the gaffer had only nine games to turn the Magpies’ faltering term around, he triumphed in just two, with a win ratio of 22.22 per cent. The Northeast outfit were already in free-fall then of course, but it is another blot on his copy book.
So, with potentially limited options elsewhere, and a job still to be done, Benitez is appealing at 11/8 to stay put and boss the first fixture of next campaign.
Magpies can swoop for Championship crown
Newcastle’s case to bounce immediately back into the top-flight, or even claim the Championship title, would of course be buoyed by such a decorated and experienced boss as Benitez remaining in the dugout.
Yet, even if a new manager is put in place, St James’ Park has the resources and squad roster to dominate during their quest to return among the elite.
Surely some players will be offloaded in summer, but as the end of season has shown in flashes – there is quality in Newcastle’s squad that many Championship clubs should fail to match.
Backed by a tremendous stadium and often capacity crowds, the Magpies will surely try to retain at least a few of keeper Tim Krul (when fit), defenders Daryl Janmaat and Jamaal Lascelles, star midfielders Moussa Sissoko, Georginio Wijnaldum and Shelvey and strikers Ayoze Perez, Aleksandar Mitrovic and Papiss Cisse.
Even fellow relegated teams Norwich City and Aston Villa lack in that kind of star, if sometimes inconsistent, quality. While toughest second-tier propositions Burnley and Middlesbrough are already automatically set for Premier League returns.
Able to be by far the biggest fishes in a smaller pond, Newcastle are a generous 6/4 to at least achieve promotion in their first term back, or a better value 4/1 to leave their opponents in the shade a lift the Championship trophy.