'What Rafa wants' - Alan Shearer gives honest assessment of Newcastle's survival hopes

By Russell Edge

Newcastle United legend Alan Shearer has said that he believes manager Rafael Benitez is crucial to the club surviving in the Premier League this season.

The Magpies have made a solid start on their return to the top flight having secured promotion from the Championship last season, sitting ninth with 10 points after seven games.

Their last outing saw them frustrate Liverpool at St James’ Park in a 1-1 draw, with Newcastle limiting the threat of the Reds’ attack, which featured the likes of Sadio Mane and Philippe Coutinho, with their compact style of play.

Speaking ahead of the club’s next clash with Southampton on Sunday, Shearer believes that the defensive approach employed by Benitez is crucial to their survival.

He told betting agency Coral, available on their Twitter account: “This Newcastle team now is what Rafa wants and needs.

Subscribe to Football Insider TV now

“(They are) tough to beat, very well organised, you can see they work very hard on the training ground and a lot of the work is shape.

“I think they’ll have enough to stay up, purely because of how Rafa sets them up and their organisation.”

Benitez has been at the helm of the club since March 2016, taking over from former England manager Steve McClaren, and although he was unable to prevent relegation, he stayed on Tyneside to guide them from the Championship at the first time of asking.

So far this season the Magpies have managed to net seven goals and concede one less with six, which is the joint fifth best defensive record in the top flight this season, alongside reigning champions Chelsea.

Sunday’s trip to the south coast will be followed by a home clash against basement club Crystal Palace, who are yet to find the net in the league this season.

In other Newcastle United transfer news, the Magpies are said to still be in the hunt for this reported former target.

We’ve launched a << BREAKING NEWS FEED>> exclusively for your club. ‘Like Us’ on Facebook by clicking here if you want 24/7 updates on all Newcastle United breaking news