Iain Dowie says Newcastle could be competing for Europe in four years if Benitez stays

The former Magpies assistant believes a new contract for Benitez could be the difference between Championship life and a European challenge.

Former Newcastle United coach Iain Dowie has told ITV Sport that he would advise Rafael Benitez to stay at the club, and claimed that the Magpies could be back challenging for Europe in just four years' time if he does.

The Tyneside club suffered a second relegation to the Championship in the space of just eight years after a miserable campaign, despite a late resurgence under Benitez.

The former Liverpool and Real Madrid manager led them to a six-game unbeaten run to finish the season, including a 5-1 thrashing of Tottenham Hotspur on the final day, but it was not enough to save them from a fate which had seemed inevitable for months.

Talk has now turned to whether the 56-year-old, who only signed a deal until the end of the season in March, will remain at the club as they contend with life in the second tier next season.

Dowie, who suffered relegation whilst on Alan Shearer's coaching staff in the final weeks of the 2008-09 season, believes the Spaniard should stay with the Magpies and outlined just how far he thinks they can go with Benitez at the helm.

Dowie told ITV Sport: "If I was Rafa yeah I would stay, because they support he'll get will be amazing and you want to see those derbies again with Sam down the road, who's done an amazing job.

"It's sad in lots of ways but Newcastle will be back amongst the elite in football, I'm sure. If they can keep Rafa I'd suggest in four years' time they may be able to compete for European spots, I really believe that."

That kind of aspiration seems a long way off for the club at the moment, with a huge summer of overhaul on the agenda as they look to prepare for Championship life.

However, if Newcastle, who last played in Europe just three seasons ago, can convince Benitez to take on the huge task at hand, they may remain optimistic that the future could still be bright.

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