Benitez in at Newcastle

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Rafael Benitez has been confirmed as the new manager of Newcastle in the wake of Steve McClaren’s dismissal earlier on Friday.

The Spaniard joins the Magpies on an initial three-year deal along with Fabio Pecchia, Francisco de Míguel Moreno, Antonio Gomez Perez, “who will join Ian Cathro and Simon Smith to form Benitez’s coaching team”, according to the club.

McClaren was sacked by the club on Friday morning after winning just nine of his 28 Premier League matches at the helm, leaving the Toon second-last in the league standings and facing another relegation battle.

Benitez has been out of a job since being shown the door by Real Madrid in early January, and will spend the rest of the season in the less glamorous pastures of St James’ Park, where he will be tasked with helping the Tynesiders avoid the drop.

“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,” Benitez told his new club’s official website.

“It will be a challenge not just for me and my staff but for the players, the club and the fans. All of us must push together in the same direction and with the same target in mind.

“This is the reason why I’m going to ask for your total support to successfully complete this task. Personally, it means my return to the Premier League, closer to my home and my family. I can’t be happier.”

His first game at the helm will come on Monday evening, when the Magpies travel to Premier League leaders Leicester.