Newcastle United legend Alan Shearer told BBC Radio 5 Live last night that Rafael Benitez has brought unity and spirit to the club's squad, but insists he should have been brought in as manager sooner, as quoted by the Chronicle.
As is only natural, the appointment of Benitez as Steve McClaren's replacement on 11 March took some time to yield a change, with the Magpies earning just one point from their first four matches under the Champions League-winning boss.
However, the last week has seen a marked improvement in the club's performances, and a resounding 3-0 win over Swansea City on Saturday - their first victory in over two months - was followed on Tuesday night by a spirited and full-deserved 1-1 draw with high-flying Manchester City.
Speaking on 5 Live, Shearer was clearly encouraged by the club's new-found fighting spirit, but insists that Benitez should have been brought in to replace McClaren sooner, with the Spaniard given just 10 games to resurrect the North East side.
The former Magpies and England captain said, as quoted by the Chronicle: "There is a now a little bit of hope where there wasn’t a few weeks ago. Certainly on Tuesday’s evidence and on Saturday’s, there’s now a togetherness.
"The fans appreciate now that the players are giving everything. Newcastle have given themselves an opportunity.
"[But] they should have got him [Benitez] in earlier. If they’d done that, I don’t think we’d be in this position now."
Following the point in Tuesday's game in hand, Newcastle are now just two points adrift of Norwich City and safety with four matches remaining with Liverpool, Crystal Palace, Aston Villa, and Tottenham Hotspur still to play.