Alan Shearer has praised Rafael Benitez after Newcastle secured a return to the Premier League – but warned the club that the hard work starts now.
The Magpies booked an immediate return to the top tier of English football after a 4-1 success over Preston on Monday night – and Shearer believes Benitez deserves the majority of the credit.
“Rafael Benitez is a huge figure at the club and he loves the place,” Shearer told BBC Radio Five Live. “He loves the passion of the fans. He’s very experienced and he’s done the job he set out to do.
“I’m sure he’ll demand that the team has to be improved and he’ll demand a few quid to do that now. You can’t stand still now.
“I’m sure Rafael will ask for funds to massively improve the team. People will realise that the team will need improving if they want to get into the top half of the Premier League.
“That league (the Championship) is a tough league to get out of and we’ve seen that the standard in that league is not great at times. You’ve got to be dogged and determined and the players have shown that for the vast majority of the season.”
Former Toon star Steve Stone echoed Shearer’s view.
“The fans adore Rafael Benitez here,” he said. “They’ve given him the backing, they chant his name.
“He’s had a calmness throughout the season and he’s got Newcastle back to where they belong.”
Reflecting on Monday night’s performance, Stone added: “That’s what you call an efficient performance.
“Preston were in the game for long periods of time and caused problems, but once they got the goal before half-time, it always looked like Newcastle were going to go on.
“Now is the time to buy and build and make sure this club doesn’t have to play in this division again.”