Ex-Magpie Peter Withe hopes takeover talk won’t destabilise Newcastle United

Rafa Benitez
Rafa Benitez

Former Newcastle United striker Peter Withe has warned that takeover talk could destabilise the club – but believes that Rafa Benitez can keep the Magpies in the Premier League.

Newcastle sit in 15th place after picking up just one point in the last six games, with a five-point gap over third-bottom Crystal Palace.

Peter Withe in the wars for Sheffield United in 1985.

Peter Withe in the wars for Sheffield United in 1985.

But Withe – who had a stint at St James’s Park from 1978-80 in between spells at top-flight title winners Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa – still believes that Benitez’s experience will help the Tynesiders find consistency and secure survival, especially if he is backed in next month’s transfer window.

Withe, 66, said: “Rafa has done brilliantly, he is a very experienced manager.

“If they can keep him, give him a few bob in the transfer window and let him make a few signings, then there is no reason why they can’t kick on.

“It’s obvious that they aren’t going to be competing with Manchester United, Chelsea or Manchester City.

“I would like to think he could (keep Newcastle in the Premier League).

“I have seen them play and they’ve lost games they should’ve won and they’ve won games they should have lost.

“They need consistency and, if Rafa can bring that, there is no reason why they can’t survive in the Premier League.”

However, Liverpool-born Withe is wary of the effect that the potential takeover of the Magpies can have. “It’s always a risk that a club can be destablised when takeover talks happen,” he said. “It happened at my old club, Aston Villa. New owners came in and people wonder just how much they will change.

“It really has an effect on the club as a whole.

“But the most important thing in a football club is what happens on the pitch. Get it right on the pitch and everything goes right.

“I would like to think that the club, whether it’s the current owner, or a new owner, will carry it forward.”