Richard Keys has been having his say on Newcastle United.

The former Sky Sports presenter has previously slaughtered Rafa Benitez so interesting to see what he’s had to say this time.

Richard Keys admits that nothing has changed in terms of how he sees Rafa as a person BUT he did think the Spaniard was the right man to get Newcastle instant promotion and has seen nothing since last summer to change his mind.

However, Keys feels that Newcastle have now put themselves in unnecessary danger of not getting back to the Premier League, due to the actions of Mike Ashley and his lackey Lee Charnley.

The TV presenter thinks that Rafa Benitez made totally clear that he needed to bring in new January signings to complete the promotion picture and with Mike Ashley pulling the plug, the owner has left Newcastle vulnerable.

Richard Keys sees Brighton as certainties to go up and thinks Leeds United are the team who could slip ahead of Newcastle, after Ashley made sure NUFC were the only promotion chasing club not to strengthen last month.

Richard Keys writing on his personal blog:

‘Regulars know that Rafa the Gafa isn’t my favourite. I’ve said many times that I believe he only manages for himself – for his own cv. Proof had to be the time he took on the Chelsea job (as revealed by yours truly and denied even by his closest confidantes!) after everything he’d previously said about the club and its fans. He’d take over at United (ED:Note to Richard, Rafa is at UNITED!!) if the price was right.

That said – can I also repeat what I wrote when Benitez stayed at Newcastle last summer? I was both a little surprised, but also delighted for Newcastle fans, because whatever else, Benitez was the right man in the right place at the right time. He gave Geordies hope again and, so far, he’s delivered.

Newcastle is a monster of a football club. I love it and I love everything about that football mad City, although I’ve always said that it’s about 350 miles too far north of London for me! The Toon’s rightful place isn’t just in the Premier League, it’s mixing it with the big boys at the top.

The trouble is, it’s owned by a very ambitious man, who knows plenty about how to squeeze every last drop of sweat out of his workers, but not much about football.

For too long Mike Ashley and his small group of ‘yes’ men have run the club into the ground.

Ashley and his current error prone MD Lee Charnley, have always meddled and Newcastle fans have had little or nothing to celebrate during Ashley’s ownership. But then came Rafa – and a suggestion of success at last for one simple reason – Benitez demanded full control of football matters at St James’ Park.

Newcastle were flying under the new regime. We hadn’t heard anything from Charnley or Ashley- until last night (Weds, after the 2-2 v QPR). For the first time Benitez aired public disappointment about an unsuccessful transfer window and carefully told us how he felt let down. I got the feeling he was warning us that the wheels might be about to come off. He obviously feels he needs more than he’s got to get automatic promotion. I hope he’s wrong – but when will the people that own and run that club learn? Back Benitez and he’ll get you back.

I wouldn’t rule out Leeds getting up automatically. If they do it’s Newcastle that could miss out – and Benitez knows it. As for Monk, he’s a fine young British coach who was badly treated at Swansea. It’s good to see him recovering his reputation.

I fancy Brighton to win the Championship and I’d be delighted for the Bloom brothers if they do. These two guys are ‘football’ people and they’ve delivered on everything they said they would. They’ve got a terrific manager in Chris Hughton (as Newcastle fans know only too well!) and I hope it’s their turn after last season’s near miss. The Blooms let Chris get on with his job.

So the lesson here is ‘let football men do what they do best’. Businessmen should stick to what they know. History tells us every time Ashley, or more recently Charnley, get busy at Newcastle things go wrong.

I hope Rafa Benitez keeps Newcastle United on course, but I fear he’s trying to tell us he’s not sure he can.’