Danny Murphy says Newcastle United would stay up under Rafael Benitez

St James Park Two

The Liverpool legend harbours resentment toward the Spaniard.

Danny Murphy has admitted to TalkSport that he will always feel bitter toward Rafael Benitez for selling him from Liverpool, but backed the Spaniard to keep Newcastle United in the Premier League if he gets the job.

Speculation is rife that Benitez is on the verge of replacing Steve McClaren at St James' Park, with the latter's departure reported to be imminent according to The Chronicle.

The former Reds coach would have a tricky task on his hands straight away as the Magpies sit 19th in the Premier League table, one point adrift of safety as it stands.

Murphy was deemed surplus to requirements at Anfield when Benitez took over in 2004, but the ex-midfielder appreciated his manager's honesty and believes that Newcastle have a 'hell of a chance' to stay in the top flight under him.

“I think Newcastle would have a hell of a chance [of avoiding the drop] with Benitez," the 38-year-old Match of the Day pundit said on TalkSport. “Don’t get me wrong, I still am and always will be frustrated at leaving the club I loved. But Rafa was always straight an honest with me, he didn’t mess about, and that’s not a bad trait in anybody.

“He is on the training pitch, organising and doing the sessions and a lot of what he did in the couple of months I was at Liverpool with him still sticks in my mind, because he knows how to set up a team to win football matches. He’s very accomplished with coaching, and of course what Newcastle need right now is to try and stop losing games and conceding goals.

“Could he do it? Could he get enough out of those players? I do worry for Newcastle, but Rafa has so much experience and if they get him I think they’d have a better chance of staying up than under Steve McClaren.”

Should he replace McClaren, it would represent a swift return to football for Benitez, who was fired by Real Madrid at the beginning of January.

Prior to that he was in charge of Napoli, whom he joined in 2013 following a caretaker stint as Chelsea coach.

The 55-year-old has won seven major trophies during his managerial career, including the Champions League and two Europa League titles - one when it was known as the UEFA Cup.

FIFA World Cup 2018FIFA 2018 World Cup Russia - click here for all of our coverage...

Register for NEWCASTLE UNITED team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch