Paul Merson says Newcastle should be finishing 11th or 12th

Paul Merson says Newcastle should be fighting to finish in the top half of the Premier League table.

Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson has told the Fantasy Football Club podcast that Newcastle United should have been fighting for a top-half Premier League finish this season instead of relegation.

The Magpies' top-flight status hangs in the balance as Rafael Benitez's troops sit 19th in the table, six points adrift of safety but a game in hand - home to Manchester City, who lead the narrow race for a Champions League qualification place - appears to be a lifeline.

Former Newcastle boss Steve McClaren, who was sacked in March, spent upwards of £80 million on talent in the summer and January, but obviously the level of investment certainly does not reflect their fortunes so far.

Given their outlay and the sheer size of the club, Merson claims that they should be finishing 11th or 12th this season rather than scrapping for their Premier League lives.

"With the size of the club and the players they've got, they shouldn't be in the bottom three," Merson said on Sky Sports' Fantasy Football Club. "I would say around the 11th or 12th mark."

Benitez and co visit Southampton on Saturday afternoon as they look to breathe new life into a dying season. The Spaniard also awaits his first win as Magpies boss - losing two and drawing one.

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