Rafael Benitez responds to suggestion of what might have happened had he been appointed sooner

St James Park

The Newcastle United manager refused to be drawn into stating whether he would have kept the club up if he had been given more time.

Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez has said, as quoted by BT Sport, that he does not think it would be fair to discuss what the club's fate might have been had be been give more time as Steve McClaren's successor.

Benitez took over from the former England boss after the Magpies finally made the decision to sack McClaren on 11 March with only 10 games of the season left to play.

The former Liverpool and Real Madrid manager took only one point from his first four matches, but with the Tyneside club six points adrift of safety with six matches to go, he moved them out of the relegation zone for the first time since February by securing eight points from an unbeaten four-game run.

However, Newcastle's failure to beat already-relegated bottom side Aston Villa at Villa Park on Saturday, coupled with Sunderland's dramatic 3-2 win over Chelsea, has left them in a desperately perilous position.

Benitez's side could be relegated before they even play again on the final day if Sunderland can beat Everton in midweek, but the Spaniard refused to be drawn into suggestions things might have been different if he had been brought in earlier.

The 56-year-old said, as quoted by BT Sport: "I don't think it is fair to say what might have happened if I had come at a different time.

"We have to wait and see and we just have to be ready for the weekend, that is it. We still have to play one more game, and we want to get three points."

Although if Sunderland win it will be all over for their North-East rivals, any other result in the clash at the Stadium of Light on Wednesday night would mean the Magpies are still in with a shout of survival if they can beat Tottenham Hotspur on the final weekend.

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