Former Newcastle United star Craig Bellamy has said that the Magpies need manager Rafael Benitez to stay at the club and kick start them on the way to success.

The Welsh forward spent four years at St James’ Park during one of the most exciting times on Tyneside, playing both UEFA Cup and Champions League football as well as challenging among the top of the Premier League table.

He says that it is bitterly disappointing to see how far the club have fallen since he left, with two relegations and a whole host of controversy surrounding the club, but insists that Benitez is the key to ensuring a successful future.

Speaking on Sky Sports’ The Debate podcast (07/03), he said: “Newcastle’s a great club, big club, it’s been disappointing to see what’s happened over the last couple of years.

“Look he (Benitez) went there, I’m sure he didn’t expect them to get relegated, but it happened, got them up, this year he hasn’t been able to spend as much money as Rafa usually likes to spend.

“Does he deserve (a move to a club like Arsenal)? Listen if he can get Newcastle going it’s a top, top football club.”

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Football Insider verdict

There will no doubt be questions cast over the future of Benitez over the summer no matter what league they are in, but if they do remain in the top flight then the Toon Army will have some confidence in keeping him at St James’ Park. Not only is he a favourite of supporters, but there is a connection similar to what he felt at Liverpool, and the club are a project he will be desperate to see succeed. However, Bellamy’s analysis is wrong. The key to success lies not at Benitez’s door, but at Mike Ashley’s. For as long as the British businessman remains owner, there will be no ambition, and success and silverware will not be coming any time soon.

In other Newcastle United transfer news, the club have opened talks to snap up a Champions League midfielder.

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