By Coral Barry
Sunderland’s Jermaine Defoe has labelled Rafael Benitez too inexperienced to rescue Newcastle from the drop.
Sunday’s Tyne-Wear derby is fast approaching with both Sunderland and Newcastle desperately trying to avoid relegation into the Championship.
Benitez replaced the sacked Steve McClaren on Friday after weeks of speculation and lost his first game in charge against league leaders Leicester on Monday.
The Spaniard has previously managed Real Madrid and Inter Milan, but Defoe is convinced he is the wrong fit for Newcastle.
“In this situation, Rafa is inexperienced” said Defoe speaking to the Chronicle Live. “Yeah, he is a top manager but he has not been in this situation before.”
Newcastle go into the match with their most hated rivals second from the bottom of the table and having lost every one of their last six encounters with Sunderland.
The Magpies are also on a four-game losing streak in the league, but remain just two points from safety and one point behind 17th placed Sunderland.
Benitez’s arrival has caused a stir in England and abroad and Defoe admits he was shocked at the appointment, but believes Black Cats coach Sam Allardyce has the edge on the former Champions League winner.
The striker said: “When he first came in, I was like ‘wow’.
“The club is lucky to get somebody like that, because he is a top manager – I’ve always liked him. But for us, having somebody like Sam [Allardyce], who has been there [relegation fight] and done it, is great.
“He is always relaxed and believes we can get out of it because he has done it before. Hopefully we can go there and make it seven [derby victories in a row].”
In other Newcastle news, Alan Shearer has weighed in on Bentiez’s chances of saving the Magpies.