In pictures: Rafael Benitez's rollercoaster first three months at Newcastle United

Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez during the press conference

The Spanish boss has certainly had an eventual time at St. James' Park so far.

Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez during the press conference

Rafael Benitez's appointment as Newcastle United manager in March came as a shock to Magpies fans and neutrals alike, and he has certainly had a rollercoaster first few months in the job.

The Spaniard was brought in as replacement for the ailing Steve McClaren with the North East side mired in desperate trouble at the bottom of the table.

Though he could not prevent their ultimate relegation, the 56-year-old sparked a huge improvement in both performances and attitude on Tyneside, and came within touching distance of proving to be a remarkable saviour.

His decision to stay at the club and sign a new three-year contract despite their drop into the Championship has breathed new hope into Magpies supporters that next season may hold reason for optimism amidst the gloom of a second relegation in eight years.

Here is a photographic timeline of Benitez's dramatic time at Newcastle so far.

11 March - The former Real Madrid manager is appointed to replace McClaren.

Picture Supplied by Action Images 

20 March - In their second match under Benitez, Newcastle's end their long losing streak against arch-rivals Sunderland thanks to Aleksandar Mitrovic's late equaliser.

Aleksandar Mitrovic celebrates after scoring the first goal for Newcastle

2 April - Benitez and Newcastle suffer a devastating blow with a hugely damaging last-gasp 3-2 defeat to fellow strugglers Norwich City.

Newcastle's Jonjo Shelvey, Steven Taylor and Karl Darlow are dejected after the match

16 April - The mini-revival begins as Benitez steers the club to a first win since early February with a convincing 3-0 victory over Swansea City.

Newcastle United with manager Rafael Benitez shakes hands with Andros Townsend after the game

19 April - They then build upon that result with an impressive home draw with high-flying Manchester City in a game they could really have won.

 Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez

23 April - Another hugely positive step came at Anfield, when they recovered from 2-0 down against Liverpool to draw 2-2.

 Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez applauds fans as Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp looks on after the game

30 April - Andros Townsend's superb free-kick gave the club genuine hope that they might pull off a miraculous recovery by securing a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace.

 Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez celebrates with Andros Townsend at the end of the match

7 May - However, their failure to beat hopeless already-relegated Villa at Villa Park proved to be the nail in their coffin, allowing Sunderland to seal their fate with a win in their game in hand.

Newcastle fans look dejected

15 May - Despite that bitter end, the season finished on an astonishing high with the 5-1 thrashing of high-flying Tottenham on the final day.

 Newcastle fans hold up a banner for manager Rafael Benitez

25 May - Following their relegation, Benitez ended speculation over his future by signing a new three-year deal.

Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez during the press conference

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