Jermain Defoe shares how he reacted when he heard Newcastle United had appointed Rafael Benitez

Sunderland and Newcastle United are set to meet on Sunday in a crucial derby match.

Sunderland striker Jermain Defoe has admitted to the Chronicle that Rafael Benitez is an ‘unbelievable appointment’ for Newcastle United.

Benitez has taken over from Steve McClaren at St. James’ Park, as the North East side look to escape the drop.

One of Newcastle’s main rivals in the battle for survival is Defoe’s club, Sunderland, but the 33-year-old front man still admits that the Magpies have made a good decision by putting Benitez in charge.

“It’s an unbelievable appointment to be honest,” Defoe said. “When he first came in, I was like ‘wow’.

“The club is lucky to get somebody like that, because he is a top manager – I’ve always liked him.”

Defoe does feel that Sunderland are in safe hands, though, and he believes Sam Allardyce’s greater experience of the relegation battle could work in his side’s favour.

“For us, having somebody like Sam, who has been there and done it is great,” the England international forward said.

“He is always relaxed and believes we can get out of it because he has done it before.”

Benitez has nine games remaining to save Newcastle, with the Tynesiders currently sitting in 19th place in the Premier League table.

The Magpies are sat one point adrift of safety, with time running out for them to make it out of trouble.

Newcastle’s next match comes against Defoe’s Sunderland, and the winner of the Tyne-Wear derby will take a big step closer to safety, while leaving their local rivals in serious trouble.

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