Big shout from Merse
Pep Guardiola might disagree with Paul Merson (Picture: AMA/Getty Images)

Paul Merson is extremely impressed with the job Rafael Benitez has done at Newcastle, to the extent that he does not think Pep Guardiola could have managed it.

The Magpies are 14th in the Premier League ahead of their clash with Arsenal on Monday night, but could rise to 12th with three points at the Emirates.

Benitez has been operating with a very small transfer budget since he arrived at St James’ Park in 2016, but has managed to re-establish the side back in the Premier League nevertheless.

Merson thinks that without the Spaniard at the helm, Newcastle would be under a much more serious threat of relegation, while he also praised the fanatical support the club receives.

Rafael Benitez has done a very decent job at Newcastle (Picture: AMA/Getty Images)

‘I think if he wasn’t the manager of Newcastle, they’d be bottom three, quite easily bottom three,’ Merson told Sky Sports. ‘What he gets out of these players, week in, week out. They all know what they’re doing.

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‘Playing on a Monday night against Arsenal, away on a Monday night, and there are no trains back.

‘You watch if they score there won’t be an empty seat there. It’s absolutely phenomenal [Newcastle’s support].

‘I think he [Rafa] is up there with one of the best. We go on about Pep Guardiola and how great he is. Could he do what Rafa’s doing at Newcastle on what they’re getting? I am going to go with, no chance!’

Newcastle have lost just one of their last six Premier League contests, a run of results that has steered them away from the drop zone.

While relegation has not been completely ruled out just yet, with a seven-point buffer between them and Cardiff in 18th, the Magpies should still be in the division next season.

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