It is now exactly seven weeks since Rafa Benitez’ first game as Newcastle manager.

A 1-0 defeat at Champions Leicester was a credible performance and Alan Shearer feels that it then took another two or three matches for the former Real Madrid boss to see what was what.

Some big decisions were needed and Rafa made so huge calls when it came to team selection.

Steve McClaren had played the likes of Wijnaldum, Shelvey and Mitrovic regardless of form but Rafa Benitez has dropped them all to the bench and reaped the rewards.

Alan Shearer salutes the changes that the new manager made and says that the outcome has been a new ‘team spirit and togetherness’ that definitely didn’t exist under McClaren.

Not only that but Rafa has also brought belief back to the fans and players, with now a definite chance of survival.

The only fly in the ointment for Alan Shearer is what the rest of us are also thinking – will Newcastle pay for not bringing in Benitez earlier?

Alan Shearer talking on the BBC:

“It took Rafa Benitez three or four games to get to know his players.

“Once he did, he left out ones that deserved to be left out.

“He has now formed team spirit and togetherness that certainly wasn’t there before he arrived – he has given Newcastle one hell of a chance of staying in the Premier League.

“Confidence is a huge thing and there is a feel good factor around Newcastle now, belief and a chance.

“There is also that belief in the crowd, they are generating an atmosphere now that is good to play in, whereas three months ago with Steve McClaren it was all doom and gloom.

“A month ago Newcastle had no chance, I hope they don’t regret not bringing in Rafa Benitez earlier –  they should have.”