EXCLUSIVE

Newcastle United would be making a big mistake if they replaced Rafael Benitez as manager with “gutless” Garry Monk, according to Noel Whelan.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the ex-Leeds United striker watched all of the matches during Monk’s season in charge at Elland Road and has monitored his subsequent spells at Middlesbrough and Birmingham City.

Whelan is unimpressed at the 40-year-old’s lack of willingness to stick it out at clubs and claimed he needs to proven he can manage for lengthy spells in difficult circumstances before getting a plum job like Newcastle.

Monk walked away from the Leeds post after being offered only a short-term deal and it was announced by Birmingham last week that he was leaving after discord behind the scenes.

“We are hearing Newcastle want him, that’s a little bit too high for Garry Monk,” Whelan told Football Insider. “Are you telling me he is better than, or as good as, Rafael Benitez?

“He is not fit to stand in the same dugout as Benitez. He still has so much to learn, about tactics, man-management, and loyalty. Benitez is the finished article and has stayed at clubs in difficult circumstances.

“He has integrity, loyalty and can hold his head high if he does walk away from Newcastle. He won’t be short of offers from top clubs, that’s for sure.”

Whelan explained why he is surprised that Monk is being linked with Newcastle after an up-and-down coaching career that began with being thrust into the Swansea City post as soon as his playing days finished.

“Garry Monk is gutless,” Whelan added to Football Insider. “He’s showed that, if there are problems at a football club, he tends to walk away or gets his agent to find him a new club.

“That’s not the way to do it. You can’t walk away from a fight. Monk did well at Birmingham last season, but he should be staying, show some loyalty to a club who gave him a job and look to do better next season.

“We are seeing a habit with him. He’s someone who comes in for a season, does okay, and then walks away if things get a bit rough.”

In other Newcastle United news, it can be REVEALED that the club are in pole position to sign a big name after a major transfer development.