Alan Shearer admits surprise at Rafael Benitez's decision to stay at Newcastle United

Former Blackburn Rovers player Alan Shearer introduced to the crowd ahead of the game

The Newcastle United legend says the Spaniard's decision is "brilliant" for the club but suggests he did not expect things to work out this way.

Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez

Newcastle United legend Alan Shearer has told BBC Radio 5 Live that he is surprised by Rafael Benitez's decision to commit his future to the club after their relegation to the Championship.

Benitez signed a new three-year deal at St. James' Park on Wednesday and will manage in the English second tier for the first time next season, just half a year after coaching one of Europe's biggest clubs in Real Madrid.

Ex-Magpies midfielder Nolberto Solano hailed the club's achievement in persuading the Spaniard to stay as their biggest moment since the appointment of Sir Bobby Robson in 1999

Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez before the match

Shearer shares his former teammate's enthusiasm for the decision, but admits that he was surprised that the 56-year-old was prepared to stick with the club.

The Premier League record goalscorer told BBC Radio 5 Live: "I'm delighted for Newcastle to attract a manager of his calibre.

"It's a tough league, the Championship and hopefully he can get Newcastle back into the Premier League within one season, at the first attempt.

Former Blackburn Rovers player Alan Shearer introduced to the crowd ahead of the game

"The fans wanted him to stay and he's done that. I'm a little surprised, I have to say, but it's brilliant for Newcastle."

Benitez oversaw a remarkable late revival in the final weeks of the campaign, leading the club to a six-match unbeaten run to finish the season, but it was not enough to save the doomed North East club.

However, his new deal will give optimism for Magpies fans that next season might hold promise after such a disillusioning year.

Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez applauds fans after the game

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