Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez looks on from the touchline

By Russell Edge

Former Sunderland defender Micky Gray has said that the current Newcastle side are not good enough to compete in the Premier League and that the club must back boss Rafael Benitez.

The Magpies earned promotion back to the top flight as champions on Sunday, after a 3-0 win at home to Barnsley saw them leapfrog former leaders Brighton, who could only draw 1-1 against 10-zman Aston Villa.

However, despite their Championship success, Gray does not believe that the current Newcastle squad contains enough quality to be competitive in next season’s top flight campaign.

He told Football on 5: “Let’s face it, I don’t think this team is good enough to stay in the Premier League.

“Like we said at the beginning of this season, the hard work starts again.

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“I think they are good enough if they spend £70 to £100 million.”

Manager Rafa Benitez has been heralded as the man behind Newcastle’s success this season, with the Champions League winning manager staying on at St James’ Park despite their relegation last season.

With his future heavily speculated on, Gray said that it was imperative that the Magpies kept a hold of the Spanish manager this summer if they were to hold any chance of succeeding next season.

“The importance of keeping hold of Rafa Benitez – he will be their best signing,” said Gray.

“They have got to back him with funds – he is a born winner.”

The Magpies finished the season on 94 points, a solitary point ahead of Brighton and nine points ahead of third placed Reading.

Both Benitez’s side and the Seagulls must wait to see who will be joining them in the Premier League, with the Royals joined in the play-offs by Sheffield Wednesday, Huddersfield and Fulham.

In other Newcastle transfer news, the Magpies are rumoured to be interested in signing a £250,000-a-week superstar.

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