Newcastle have appointed Rafa Benitez as their new manager, following the sacking earlier on Friday of Steve McClaren.

The former Valencia, Liverpool, Inter, Chelsea and Real Madrid coach takes over a club mired in a relegation scrap having won just six league games all season.

The Spaniard, 55, has signed a three-year contract, which is understood to contain a break clause should Newcastle be relegated at the end of the season.

“C’mon Toon Army. The club and I need your total involvement,” Benitez said.

Benitez has plenty of experience of managing in England having spent six years as Liverpool manager, winning the Champions League in 2005. He also had an interim spell with Chelsea, guiding the Blues to Europa League success in 2013. Benitez was sacked in January after seven months as Real Madrid coach.

“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 Benitez, who has brought in his own team of coaches comprising Fabio Pecchia, Francisco de Miguel Moreno and Antonio Gomez Perez.

“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.”

McClaren was sacked after just nine months in charge with the club languishing one place off the foot of the table. The final straw for the former England manager came with last Saturday’s 3-1 home defeat to Bournmouth – a result which saw the players booed off the pitch by disgruntled Newcastle fans. His coaching team of Paul Simpson, Alessandro Schoenmaker and Steve Black have all left the club.

Newcastle’s managing director Lee Charnley said: “In Rafa we have, without doubt, secured the services of one of Europe’s top managers.

“He has managed some of the most successful teams at the very highest level of the game and we are proud to now have him as our manager.

“Our sole focus now is to give our full support to Rafa, his coaching team and the players in order to secure our status in the Premier League.”