Newcastle United have officially confirmed the exit of Steve McClaren, following Saturday’s 3-1 defeat to newly promoted Bournemouth.

Former Real Madrid boss Rafa Benitez has been appointed as his successor on a three-year deal.

The Spaniard has been looking for a ‘long-term project’ since departing the Bernabeu earlier this year and believes he can restore the glory days to Newcastle.

As part of Benitez’s appointment, Paul Simpson, Alessandro Schoenmaker and Steve Black have all been axed. Fabio Pecchia, Francisco de Míguel Moreno and Antonio Gómez Pérez will join Ian Cathro and Simon Smith to form Benitez’s coaching team.

Upon signing for Newcastle, Rafa told the club’s official website: “I have the pleasure to confirm I have committed to a legendary English club, with the massive challenge of remaining part of the Premier League.

“It will be a challenge not just for me and my staff but for the players, the Club and the fans.

“All of us must push together in the same direction and with the same target in mind. This is the reason why I’m going to ask for your total support to successfully complete this task.

“Personally, it means my return to the Premier League, closer to my home and my family. I can’t be happier.

“C’mon Toon Army! The club and I need your total involvement!”

Denis Doyle/Getty Images Sport

The Geordie faithful had given McClaren time to steady the ship but, after slumping to their 16th defeat of the season last weekend, patience had worn thin and change was needed.

Benitez’s appointment will certainly come as a surprise to many Newcastle fans, but survival is far from secure. Newcastle are currently in 19th place – a point behind 17th placed Sunderland and nine points behind 16th placed Swansea.