Newcastle hope to learn from Shearer and Benitez failings by sticking with Bruce

Damian Spellman, PA

Newcastle head coach Steve Bruce remains safe in his post despite the club’s alarming slide into the fight for Premier League safety.

The PA news agency understands that owner Mike Ashley will give the 60-year-old time to drag the club out of a tailspin which has left them sitting just three points clear of the bottom three with 13 games to play.

He will do so having twice dispensed with the services of a manager in similar circumstances during his reign and seen the club relegated on both occasions.

Here, PA takes a look how Alan Shearer and Rafael Benitez fared as they battled in vain to avoid the drop.

Alan Shearer

Former Newcastle striker Alan Shearer was given just eight games in which to drag the club out of relegation trouble
Former Newcastle striker Alan Shearer was given just eight games in which to drag the club out of relegation trouble (Owen Humphreys/PA)

The background

Record goalscorer Shearer made a high-profile return to Tyneside in April 2009 with a chaotic season, which had started with Kevin Keegan at the helm before Joe Kinnear took over with Chris Hughton twice in caretaker charge, unravelling at break-neck speed. They sat in 18th place in the table with 29 points having won just one of their last 12 games and with only eight more to play.

The games

Chelsea (h) 0-2

Stoke (a) 1-1

Tottenham (a) 0-1

Portsmouth (h) 0-0

Liverpool (a) 0-3

Middlesbrough (h) 3-1

Fulham (h) 0-1

Aston Villa (a) 0-1

Shearer’s brief reign yielded just one win and two draws, and a final-day defeat at Aston Villa, courtesy of Damien Duff’s own goal, took them down on 34 points when one more would have kept them up on goal difference at Hull’s expense.

What happened next?

Newcastle manager Chris Hughton celebrates with the Championship trophy
Newcastle manager Chris Hughton celebrates with the Championship trophy (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Shearer drew up a blueprint for a promotion drive and Ashley made all the right noises as he considered the way forward. But the former Newcastle skipper never got an answer and the new Sky Bet Championship campaign started with Hughton reluctantly in the hot-seat once again. The Irishman made rather a good fist of it, guiding the club back into the top flight as runway champions at the first attempt, only to be sacked in December 2010.

Rafael Benitez

Rafael Benitez was drafted in by Newcastle after Steve McClaren was sacked
Rafael Benitez was drafted in by Newcastle after Steve McClaren was sacked (Owen Humphreys/PA)

The background

Ashley turned to Champions League winner Benitez on March 11, 2016 after dispensing with the services of former England boss Steve McClaren with 10 games remaining. The side that the Spaniard inherited, which had been boosted by January signings Jonjo Shelvey and Andros Townsend, was languishing in 19th place and had collected eight of the last 36 points they had contested.

The games

Leicester (a) 0-1

Sunderland (h) 1-1

Norwich (a) 2-3

Southampton (a) 1-3

Swansea (h) 3-0

Manchester City (h) 1-1

Liverpool (a) 2-2

Crystal Palace (h) 1-0

Aston Villa (a) 0-0

Tottenham (h) 5-1

A return of 13 points boosted the Magpies’ tally to 37, but they were relegated before a rousing final-day demolition of Tottenham when derby rivals Sunderland, led by survival specialist Sam Allardyce, beat Everton 3-0 in midweek to ease themselves two points clear of the drop zone.

What happened next?

Against the odds – and in the absence of a better offer – Benitez opted to remain at St James’ Park to spearhead the quest for an immediate return. He achieved his initial mission, which was completed in style when a 3-0 victory over Barnsley – coupled with Brighton’s 1-1 draw at Villa – saw Newcastle pip the Seagulls to the title on the final day of the season. Benitez went on to engineer 10th and 13th-placed Premier League finishes before deciding, in the face of a fractious relationship with the owner, that his future lay in China.

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