Pako Ayestaran tips Newcastle for Champions League football in future

Newcastle United manager Rafa Benitez

Ayestaran spent more than a decade working under Rafael Benitez, and has tipped the Spaniard to inspire Newcastle to success.

Newcastle United manager Rafa BenitezNewcastle United manager Rafa Benitez

Rafael Benitez's former assistant Pako Ayestaran has suggested that Newcastle United have the potential to return to the Champions League one day, the Daily Mail reports.

Despite currently plying their trade in the second tier, there is a sense of optimism at St James' Park at the moment that has not been present for many years.

Benitez's men have made a sensational start to the season in the Championship. Their win over Leeds on Sunday saw them move five points clear at the top of the table, having won their last eight games in the league. 

And Ayestaran - who worked as Benitez's assistant for 11 years, and was present for Liverpool's famous Champions League win in 2005 - has tipped the Spaniard to potentially lead the Magpies back to Europe's top table for the first time since the days of Sir Bobby Robson's tenure.

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez (C) assistant manager Pako Ayestaran (R) and first team coach Alex Miller (L) during trainingRafael Benitez (C) and assistant manager Pako Ayestaran (R) during their time with Liverpool

"Rafa feels loved and wanted at Newcastle. He couldn't walk away after relegation," he said, as reported by the Mail.

"The board clearly trust him. It's a club that has Champions League potential with an extraordinary fanbase and an authentic culture. It should be a magnificent club to manage and I think it's becoming that again."

Newcastle United's Dwight Gayle celebrates scoring their first goalNewcastle United's Dwight Gayle

While the Champions League may be a long way off currently, it appears that Newcastle have reacted to relegation in the perfect manner.

Their squad appears to be considerably better than anything else in the division. And if they go on and achieve promotion, as many expect they will, they will fancy their chances of quickly re-establishing themselves back at the highest level. 

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