Sissoko confident Benitez can save Newcastle

Moussa Sissoko believes Newcastle United can only benefit from Rafael Benitez's expertise as they battle for Premier League survival.

Benitez, who left Real Madrid in January, agreed a three-year deal to replace Steve McClaren at St James' Park last week.

The Spaniard's first game in charge resulted in a narrow 1-0 defeat at table-topping Leicester City, although Newcastle remain just one point from safety and have nine matches to preserve their top-flight status.

And Sissoko feels Benitez, a Champions League winner with Liverpool, can guide them to safety.

"We were surprised to see him come to Newcastle because normally he is playing for the title and Champions League," said the France midfielder.

"We were all happy and now we have nine games left. He will bring his experience and we can be in the Premier League next season with him.

"He worked with Madrid, Liverpool, some very good teams. We need to listen to what he says because he is one of the best managers in the world. We need to follow him."

Next up for Newcastle is a north-east derby with fellow strugglers Sunderland at St James' Park on Sunday, a match Sissoko knows could prove crucial.

He added: "Every derby is a big game, but I think it will be more so on Sunday because we are both in and around the bottom three."

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