Leeds boss Garry Monk speaks highly of Rafael Benitez, comments on Newcastle's project

Swansea manager Garry Monk

The Championship season kicks off on Friday - and Newcastle are the hot favourites for promotion.

Swansea manager Garry MonkLeeds United manager Garry Monk

Leeds United boss Garry Monk has told BBC Radio Five Live that he thinks Rafael Benitez sees Newcastle as a project, hence his desire to stay.

The Championship season gets underway on Friday evening, with Newcastle travelling down to Craven Cottage to take on Fulham, and much is expected of the Magpies.

Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez during the press conferenceNewcastle United manager Rafael Benitez during a press conference

Relegated from the Premier League last season, Newcastle have managed to keep a number of key players, and have added to it with considerable spending on proven quality.

Benitez has brought Matz Sels, Jesus Gamez, Grant Hanley, Ciaran Clark, Isaac Hayden, Mohamed Diame, Matt Ritchie and Dwight Gayle to St. James' Park, meaning Newcastle are the hot favourites to win the Championship title this season, and win instant promotion back to the top flight.

Newcastle manager Rafael BenitezNewcastle manager Rafael Benitez

Keeping players like Daryl Janmaat, Ayoze Perez and Aleksandar Mitrovic is a boost, as are the new signings, but managing to keep manager Benitez is the major story from Newcastle's summer business.

This time last year, Benitez was preparing for his first La Liga season as Real Madrid manager, and whilst he was preparing for Barcelona last summer, he's now plotting how to beat the likes of Burton Albion this time around.

A Champions League winner who has managed some of the biggest clubs in the world, Benitez is seen as the key man for the Magpies despite their quality squad - and Leeds boss Garry Monk is a huge fan of the Spaniard.

Swansea manager Garry MonkLeeds manager Garry Monk

Monk told BBC Radio Five Live that Benitez is a proven coach around Europe, and already knows what the culture is like in Britain having managed Liverpool - and suggested the challenge of completing a total turnaround of Newcastle is what kept Benitez on Tyneside this summer.

"They've been down there before in recent history, so they've proven that they can bounce straight back," said Monk. "With Rafa, he's one of the most experienced coaches in Europe with his track record and what he's won, and he's done it over here as well, he already knows the culture of British football."

"I think he sees it as a project. I think he sees the challenge of Newcastle United, the project of it all to get them back in the Premier League, and then be a real force in the Premier League is what he can see. That's probably his attitude and his focus on what he's trying to do there," he added.

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