Paul Merson makes claim over Sunderland and Newcastle’s survival chances

Newcastle United

Newcastle United and Sunderland currently occupy two of the three relegation spots.

Paul Merson believes Sunderland will be relegated if they lose to Leicester City this weekend while suggesting Newcastle United made the wrong choice in Rafa Benitez, the Daily Star report.

Sunderland currently occupy 18th position in the Premier League table, four points adrift of Norwich City.

With games running out thick and fast, the Black Cats need victories on the board and with just four games remaining at the Stadium of Light, Merson feels they will be gone if they fail to beat Leicester on Sunday.

“Sam Allardyce can keep the title race alive this weekend – and save Sunderland from the drop at the same time. He needs to be the party pooper against Leicester because if Sunderland lose today, I think they are gone. They are running out of home games,” Merson wrote in his column for the Daily Star.

With the Black Cats appearing in a fairly bleak position and in dire need of victories, one can only imagine how Newcastle fans are feeling right now as the Magpies sit a further two points adrift of their rivals.

Rafa Benitez’s arrival sparked fresh optimism over Newcastle’s survival chances, yet one point from his first three matches in charge has left the Tyneside club in a whole heap of trouble.

Renowned for his tactical assertion and in-depth analysis, Benitez has all the capabilities of a top class coach except arguably the most important factor in such a situation - motivational skills.

While nobody is claiming the Spaniard desperately lacks in this area, it’s certainly not his forte and Merson suggests he isn’t the right fit for a relegation battling side and fears for their survival chances.

He added: “Rafa Benitez could take Newcastle down and walk into the Spain job. Vicente Del Bosque actually tipped him as a potential successor this week, and he’d probably be a good fit in that job.

“He isn’t one for Newcastle though. I didn’t see it working when they appointed him, and it hasn’t really.

“They are only a flukey result away from being relegated. It’s out of their hands really, which is the worst situation you can be in when you’re in trouble.”

Newcastle travel to Southampton this weekend while Norwich City are away at Crystal Palace.

Register for NEWCASTLE UNITED team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch