Newcastle face Manchester United at St. James’ Park on Sunday.
Former Newcastle United midfielder Kieron Dyer has told the Daily Mail that he “fears” for the Toon in their fight against relegation but believes manager Rafa Benitez has the X-factor – and that could keep them up.
The Toon are preparing to welcome Manchester United on Sunday afternoon at St. James’ Park, as Benitez’s side face a tall order in preventing Jose Mourinho’s men from completing the double over the Magpies.
United earned a 4-1 win at Old Trafford and another defeat at the hands of the Red Devils could see Newcastle slip into the bottom three sides in the Premier League table, and Dyer is worried for his old side.
The ex-England international believes Newcastle lack a goalscorer but is confident that Benitez’s “X-factor” can prove crucial in helping the Toon remain in the top flight of English football.
“I do fear for them,” Dyer said. “Goals have been hard to come by and they don’t have a prolific goalscorer. It is going to be a struggle but their big advantage is that Rafa Benitez is top drawer.
“He could be the X-factor that keeps them up. Hopefully Newcastle stay up, the takeover happens, Benitez stays and the club can become established in the Premier League once more and not a yo-yo team.”
January recruit Islam Slimani is expected to return from a muscle injury to make his first appearance for the Toon, after joining the club on deadline from Leicester City on loan until the end of the season.
Benitez and Newcastle will take confidence from Mourinho’s dismal record on Tyneside, which has seen him draw three times and lose three times following his two spells with Chelsea.