Kluivert backs Benitez to keep Newcastle up


Newcastle United have "great players" and are likely to survive relegation following the arrival of Rafael Benitez as manager, according to their former striker Patrick Kluivert.

Benitez, sacked by Real Madrid in January, took over from Steve McClaren last Friday and lost his first match in charge 1-0 at Premier League leaders Leicester City on Monday.

Newcastle sit 19th in the table with only nine matches left to save their top-flight status - a crucial derby against Sunderland next up at St James' Park on Sunday.

Kluivert, who played for the club between 2004 and 2005, feels Benitez will do enough to keep them out of the bottom three.

"Newcastle is a great club with great players," he told Omnisport. "Every year they succeed in buying good players, but every club needs a good team and if you are a team you can shine as an individual. 

"Rafael Benitez is a good trainer. He has shown that at various clubs. I know him quite well. He's a trainer who likes to look at the statistics. 

"If he is a good trainer for Newcastle, we will see. I think that he can bring them out of the relegation, that's really what I think. 

"They are struggling at the moment. It's not nice to see a club where you played having such struggles.

"If they come [to me for help] I am always happy to speak with them because Newcastle United always stays in my heart. If you have played for a club, you would like to help them."

Kluivert - currently in charge of CONCACAF nation Curacao and previously Louis van Gaal's assistant with Netherlands - also reiterated his aim to coach one of his other former clubs, Barcelona, in the years ahead.

"My ambition is very high," added the 39-year-old. "I'm really looking forward to coaching a good club - that's my ambition and I'm looking forward to getting the opportunity to show what I can do. 

"It's frustrating to wait because my hands are itching to do something nice with a good club, but I think I can work quite well with players and make them better and do good things for the club that I will coach in the future.

"Of course my ambition is to be the coach of Barcelona. That's a big step from now, but never say never. That's my aim, to be the coach of a big club in Europe and I hope in five years I can be the coach of one of those clubs."