Freddie Shepherd the former chairman of Newcastle United

By Matt Farr

Ex-Newcastle chairman Freddy Shepherd believes that Rafa Benitez is the most popular Newcastle manager since Sir Bobby Robson.

Benitez led the club to the Championship title this season, and has agreed to stay on next season as the club prepare for their return to the Premier League, much to the delight of the Newcastle faithful.

The Spaniard’s long-term future at St. James’ Park had come into question following a breakdown in communication over the club’s transfers, with Benitez failing to land any of his targets during the winter window.

However, following successful talks with owner Mike Ashley earlier this week, it has been revealed that Benitez will be given the financial backing to strengthen the Newcastle squad this summer.

A statement from Ashley read, as quoted by Newcastle Chronicle reporter Lee Ryder on his personal Twitter account on Wednesday: “[He] can have every last penny that the club generates through promotion, player sales and other means.”

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Benitez is therefore understood to be willing to continue in his current role, and Shepherd, who stepped down from his duties at the club in July 2007, revealed the decision for Benitez to stay was ‘great news’.

He told TalkSport: “It is great news for all the Geordies. The supporters love him and they hope for the best for him. I think he is the most popular manager since [Sir Bobby Robson].”

Shepherd also offered the club some valuable transfer market advice, insisting that Benitez will need to ensure he has enough seasoned players with top flight experience at the club next season.

“They have done a great job in the Championship but for the Premier League you need some seasoned players who have seen it all and can do it,” he continued.

In other Newcastle news, this 25-year-old Magpies player is among three reported targets for a Championship manager.

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