It was predictable that bookies would make Newcastle the hot favourite to bounce straight back to the Premier League but the club are also getting backing from the most unlikely places.

Michael Gray has made his name as a rent a quote, always willing to take the mick out of Newcastle when they are down to get some cheap laughs from the mackems, a bit like Steven Taylor has been over the years but in reverse. Gray’s greatest moment as a player, came when he was the one that missed the penalty which saw Charlton promoted to the Premier League at Sunderland’s expense in the 1998 play-offs.

However, not only does former Sunderland hero Michael Gray think Newcastle are set for an instant return to the Premier League, he also claims that he actually wants them to do so.

Gray says that Newcastle at last have the right man in charge and that the Premier League will be a ‘better place’ with Newcastle back in it.

The retired left-back thinks that there is a connection between Newcastle fans and the Manager that hasn’t been there ‘for a long time’ and that on the final day of the season, supporters made clear what they thought of Rafa Benitez as the team recorded a surprising 5-1 win over Tottenham.

Michael Gray speaking to the Daily Star

“Newcastle United’s downfall was not replacing Steve McClaren a little bit earlier – if you look at Rafa Benitez throughout his entire career, he has been a successful manager.

“I saw the performances against Manchester City and Tottenham and they were breathtaking.

“He is the right man, the Newcastle public took to him straight away.

“Every man, woman and child was singing ‘Rafa we want you to stay’ and I think that’s great.

“They have not had that for a long time and he has got the affiliation with the football club straight away.

“They have certainly got the right man in charge and the Premier League will be a better place with Sunderland and Newcastle in it.

“And I know people might read this and think that I don’t mean it…but I really do hope that they get back in the Premier League.”