By support

25th Apr, 2017 | 9:10am

Kevin Keegan delivers verdict on Newcastle senior man, this is his biggest challenge

By Matt Farr

Kevin Keegan insists competing in the Premier League will be Rafa Benitez’s biggest challenge with Newcastle.

The Spaniard masterminded the club’s immediate return to the Premier League with a 4-1 win over Preston at St. James’ Park on Monday, joining Brighton in automatic promotion to the top flight.

Despite spending the majority of the campaign challenging at the top of the Championship table, Newcastle’s passage to the top flight was not always a smooth one, but it rarely looked in doubt.

But Magpies favourite Keegan insists that the biggest challenge is yet to come for the Newcastle chief, insisting that it is ‘not that difficult’ to get Newcastle out of the Championship.

He told the Liverpool Echo: “They wanted him to stay and he stayed. They wanted him to bring them back up. I think he’s then got his biggest job without doubt.

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“It’s not that difficult to get Newcastle out of the Championship with the finance they’ve got, the players they’ve kept, the fans they’ve got.

“But it’s a bit more difficult when you get in with the big boys who are a few steps ahead of you. Newcastle is a big club like Liverpool but it hasn’t won anything for a long time.”

The win over Preston also keeps Newcastle in the race to lift the Championship title, although league leaders Brighton remain in the driving seat.

Newcastle are four points behind Brighton with two games remaining, and must win their next game against Cardiff to stand any chance of pipping their rivals to the post.

Brighton, however, could eliminate the Newcastle threat entirely by winning against Bristol City on Saturday, but it will not effect either side’s bid for promotion.

Benitez endured a brief stint in the Premier League with Newcastle last season, but failed to keep them in the division after replacing Steve McClaren as manager in March 2016.

But he is no stranger to the demands of top flight football, having also managed both Liverpool and Chelsea in the Premier League, as well as elite European clubs Inter Milan and Real Madrid.

In other Newcastle news, Peter Beagrie has delivered a damning verdict on Newcastle’s Premier League survival hopes.

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