Benitez takes over at Newcastle
NEWCASTLE, England (AP):
Rafa Benitez started this season tasked with winning the Champions League with Real Madrid. He will end it trying to keep Newcastle in the English Premier League.
The Spaniard replaced Steve McClaren as manager yesterday, signing a three-year deal with the club that is 19th in the 20-team standings but only a point from safety.
"I have the pleasure to confirm I have committed to a legendary English club, with the massive challenge of remaining part of the Premier League," said the former Liverpool manager, before taking the first training session with his new players.
Benitez was dismissed as coach of Madrid in January, winning 17 of his 25 matches with the team.
His first game in charge of Newcastle will be against surprise Premier League leader Leicester on Monday, before facing 17th-place Sunderland the following Sunday in a relegation fight.
The 55-year-old Benitez has plenty of Premier League experience, having managed Liverpool for six years winning the Champions League in 2005 and a six month spell as interim boss at Chelsea in 2011-12.
McClaren was fired earlier yesterday after only nine months in the role, following nine losses in 12 games.