Benitez, Di Matteo or Neil? Who's the best equipped for a Premier League push?

Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez

The trio are all striving for a Premier League return but who are the best equipped to sustain a promotion push as we enter the end of the window?

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

Newcastle United
Tipped as the favourites by many in pre-season, Rafael Benitez has found life in the Championship harder than expected in the opening three games.

An opening day defeat to Fulham led to another loss last Saurday at home to Huddersfield Town although Wednesday night's victory over Reading could be what is needed to relieve some pressure at St. James' Park

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The club were very quick to get deals over the line. Benitez was able to secure the services of Matt Ritchie, Dwight Gayle, Grant Hanley as well as Ciaren Clark and Mo Diame. All players who either know the Championship or have played higher. 

In Dwight Gayle they have a natural goal threat who will no doubt score goals at Newcastle, while Matt Ritchie is proven at this level and will be one of the players who will have a huge say as to whether they can gain promotion.

Ciaren Clark will shore up the defence which has been leaky in the opening two games, and as new club captain Jamal Lascelles has looked far from convincing to have a man who has vast experience playing in the Premier League will no doubt help.

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The biggest casualties to leave the club are Georginio Wijnaldum and Andros Townsend to Liverpool and Crystal Palace respectively, however it would've been expected for the club to lose a few big-name players. 

Wijnaldum made a real impact in his debut season last term and Townsend certainly added something to the side when he joined in January.

You would have to say what they've lost is a blow, but they have certainly used the market well to gain players who know the division and who will strive to get them back to the Premier League.

Newcastle's Dwight Gayle scores their fourth goalNewcastle's Dwight Gayle scores their fourth goal

Aston Villa
Similar to Newcastle, who have failed to hit the ground running in the Championship, a topsy turvy start to life in the division for manager Roberto Di Matteo has suggested that the club may need to reinforce further.

After victory on the weekend against Rotherham United, it seemed as though they had kick-started their season, but a goalkeeping error from Pierluigi Gollini cost Villa back to back victories at the hands of Huddersfield Town.

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After a fairly quiet start to the window, the signings of Ross McCormack and Mile Jedinak have certainly boosted hopes around Villa Park. 

In McCormack they have a proven goalscorer at this level for the past four or five seasons and he will no doubt do exactly the same under Di Matteo. Sealing the Jedinak deal will please everyone at the club - the Australia international failed to make an impact once Alan Pardew took over, but his quality is undoubtedly still there. 

Signings of Tommy Elphick and Aaron Tshibola will add a freshness. Elphick was captain of the Bournemouth side that gained promotion in 2015, so his leadership will prove key for this young side. while Tshibola impressed during his time at Reading with his calm and composed style of play that will suit Di Matteo. 

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The sale of Ciaran Clark will be a blow but apart from that they will be more than happy to not have lost any more of their prized assets. 

Carlos Sanchez and Idrissa Gana have left the club, although the pair failed to make the impact required last season, so fresh blood in the middle of the park will be welcomed.

They've strengthened a spine that was broken last term, but questions will remain as to whether Di Matteo can get this new-look Villa playing instantly.

Ross McCormack celebrates with Jack Grealish after he scores Aston Villa's first goalRoss McCormack celebrates with Jack Grealish after he scores Aston Villa's first goal

Norwich City
Unlike Newcastle and Aston Villa, the Canaries have made a solid start back in the Championship with seven points from a possible nine. 

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The main signing of their window has been Alex Pritchard from Tottenham Hotspur on a four-year deal which will excite the Norwich fans, Pritchard was part of the Brentford side that came so close to securing a place in the Championship Play-Off Final in 2014 where he made a name for himself and will want to do the same in Norfolk.

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A very quiet summer has seen only major star Nathan Redmond leave the club for Premier League Southampton, plenty of people would've expected the England Under-21 international to leave last summer after impressing throughout the season. 

The fact they've been able to keep Robbie Brady so far is a massive coo for Alex Neil. After his Euro 2016 campaign he could've been snatched by a bigger club, but the window isn't closed yet.

A very quiet summer on the whole, but the key factor could be that they've been able to keep their main stars and keep the continuity from last season.

Alex Pritchard of Brentford with Lewis Cook of Leeds UnitedAlex Pritchard of Brentford with Lewis Cook of Leeds United

Verdict
Newcastle and Villa have managers who will need to find their feet in the Championship. Despite Di Matteo having experience it's a different scenario he walks into with a side that is in need of confidence. For the Magpies, to keep Benitez is a massive plus but questions will remain as to whether these big name players can hack the demands of the Championship.

Norwich City are the perfect side for the division, they've been able to keep hold of the majority of their stars as well as keeping their manager. The continuity, togetherness and understanding of the players could just prove key. 

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