Newcastle United have now announced the identity of a new number two for Rafa Benitez.

Wednesday had seen the departure of Fabio Pecchia to take over as manager of Verona.

A number of possible replacements had been speculated, including Bolo Zenden, Ian Cathro and Alan Shearer.

However, Thursday lunchtime has seen confirmation that Mikel Antia has got the job.

Official Newcastle United statement:


Newcastle United are pleased to confirm the appointment of Mikel Antia to Rafa Benitez’s coaching team.

The 43-year-old Spaniard joins United from the Aspire Academy in Qatar where he has been part of the coaching team tasked with developing young Qatari players.

He replaces Fabio Pecchia, who this week joined Serie B side Verona as the Italian side’s new manager.

Mikel, who hails from San Sebastian in Spain, had spells as a player at the Real Madrid Academy where he played under Rafa Benítez for four seasons, before moving to Real Valladolid in La Liga, also with Benítez.  Mikel later moved on to play for Celta Vigo and Real Sociedad.

The rest of Rafa Benitez’s coaching staff, consisting of Francisco de Míguel Moreno, Antonio Gómez Pérez, Ian Cathro and Simon Smith, will remain at St. James’ Park.

Rafa Benitez said:

“I am delighted that Mikel is joining my staff.  He is a very talented coach and I know he will add great expertise to my team.

“At the same time I am sad to see Fabio depart as he has been an excellent professional from the first day until the last in the years we have worked together.

“He leaves to face these new and exciting challenges, both personally and professionally. I wish him all the best and say thank you.”