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Premier League: Newcastle sack Steve McClaren with former Liverpool and Chelsea boss Rafa Benitez expected to take over

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Newcastle United have confirmed what many were expecting by announcing that they have sacked head coach Steve McClaren.

Since their 3-1 defeat at home to Bournemouth at last weekend it has been widely expected that the former England boss would be sacked, and today the club have confirmed.

Whilst no one will argue with the decision itself, the amount of time it has taken, almost a week since the the Bournemouth game, to reach the decision has drawn criticism.

McClaren has been defiant this week, and has continued to take training with the players, despite reports that the club were already lining up a replacement.

The club, in and official statement, acknowledged that the amount of time taken 'has caused uncertainty for everyone involved, in particular for Steve and the players, for which we apologise.'

"However, we felt that this time was necessary to ensure the right decisions were reached with the best interests of the club at heart."

Managing director Lee Charnley added: 'I would like to thank Steve personally for his services to Newcastle United.

"'He is a man of integrity and class and he has conducted himself with great dignity during this difficult time.

"'He has the utmost respect of all the players, staff and management and he leaves with our very best wishes and sincere thanks.

"'We feel that a change is now needed in order to give the club the best possible chance of securing its Premier League future. A further announcement on a successor to Steve will be made in due course.'"

That change is expected to result in former Liverpool and Chelsea boss Rafa Benitez being appointed as their new manager.

It is believed that he will be appointed on a three year deal, and will be taking the role of manager as opposed to McClaren's title of head coach, which would infer that Benitez will be taking more control of matters on and off the pitch.

His stature within the game would certainly make him Newcastle's most high profile managerial appointment for some time. Before his ill fated spell at Real Madrid earlier this season, Benitez had won at least one trophy at each club he had managed since he was made Valencia boss in 2001.

If he does take the job, he will be looking at a different kind challenge than he has been used to at previous clubs, keeping Newcastle in the Premier League. 

Currently a point behind their arch rivals Sunderland, Benitez will need to shore up a leaky defence and arrest a woeful away record if they are to avoid the drop. 

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