After a couple of weeks of discussions, it has been confirmed today that Rafa Benitez will stay on at Newcastle. The deal is reportedly going to run for three years, which is a real show of commitment from the Spaniard, considering the club’s drop into the Championship and the bookies have reacted on Newcastle winning the division.

It is widely acknowledged that the potential issues with him staying at the club would be the matter of having sole control over the squad, player affairs and player recruitment. So, after these protracted talks with owner Mike Ashley and how guarded Benitez has been in press conferences about committing his future it has to be assumed that he has been offered these assurances and more.

It’s not clear how much money Rafa will have to spend in the summer transfer window but we can assume that it’s significant. He also has the expected sales of Moussa Sissoko, Georginio Wijnaldum, Daryl Janmaat and Andros Townsend to bolster the kitty.

Some of the players that were probably looking to leave in the summer will now change their minds with Benetiz staying, so he will have a strong squad before he even signs anyone. The likes of Karl Darlow, Jamaal Lascelles and Jonjo Shelvey all have Championship experience and have all improved since their last time in the division. If they keep Mitrovic and Perez that would be a formidable forward line in the Championship to supplement their spine.

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While Aston Villa are expected to have a lot of summer dealings with their recent takeover by Tony Xia, there will be a lot of upheaval as well, with a mass exodus of playing staff on the cards. While they rebuild their squad they may struggle for form in the early part of the season and lose ground on Newcastle. The other expected contenders for the title are Norwich and they’ll be there or thereabouts at the season. Whether they can keep pace with Newcastle though is another matter.

The Rafa Benitez affect has seen the odds for Newcastle winning the Championship drop from 9-2 to 5-2 to become the shortest pre-season Championship favourites ever. While this may look too short, Benitez’s management experience is a cut above the rest and the players at his disposal will be of a similar ilk.

Our users obviously think the same as Newcastle to win the Championship is one of our most popular bets today and almost certainly will be going forward.
Newcastle to win the Championship 16/17 - 2pts @ 5/2