Rob Lee has this dire warning for Rafael Benitez at Newcastle

St James Park

The former Magpies midfielder has no doubt that taking charge of this Magpies side will be the toughest task of the Spaniard's career.

Former Newcastle United midfielder has warned incoming manager Rafael Benitez that taking charge at St. James' Park will be a task like no other the Spaniard has faced before, whilst speaking to Sky Sports.

The former Liverpool and Chelsea boss was announced as the new head coach of the Magpies after Steve McClaren was sacked on Friday, after it was first reported by HITC Sport last week that the 55-year-old was a frontrunner for the job.

Benitez has managed clubs at the height of their powers, as well as taking charge of top teams when struggling for form, but he has not faced a mountainous challenge like the one awaiting him on Tyneside.

Lee, who played 379 times for Newcastle, believes the club have taken a huge risk in appointing a man unused to having to fight relegation battles.

He told Sky Sports: "It's a huge risk. He's been at some huge clubs, Rafa Benitez, he knows the Premier League having been at Liverpool and Chelsea for six years, he's been at Milan and Real Madrid, but this will be his toughest test.

"He can't bring any players in, he's got the players that he's got, and he has to try now and use his motivational skills and his managerial skills to get these players to start playing well and winning games, which they haven't been able to do.

"They're certainly lacking in confidence, they're lacking in fight and spirit, and it's going to be a really tough job. The next three games - Leicester away, the big derby against Sunderland, and Norwich away - could determine whether Newcastle stay up or go down anyway."

Following the 3-1 home defeat to Bournemouth, a fifth loss in the last six matches which proved to be the final straw for Mike Ashley and the Newcastle board, the Magpies are second bottom of the Premier League table.

However, they have a game in hand over the majority of their rivals which would, as the table stands, see them lift two points clear of the drop zone with a win.

Benitez is not expected to begin hands-on work with the Newcastle squad until after the trip to league leaders Leicester City on Monday night.

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