Steve Bruce has been talking sense (yes, really) ahead of the game at St James Park tonight.

Newcastle will go back top of the table with 14 matches remaining, if they see off Aston Villa.

With their flurry of spending in January, Aston Villa are now undoubtedly the biggest spenders in the second tier this season.

Tony Xia allowing Steve Bruce to continue the spending that started in the summer when Roberto di Matteo was making the decisions.

For all the signings made by the two relegated clubs, Steve Bruce has picked out the biggest and best – Rafa Benitez.

The Villa boss has praised the Spaniard’s know-how and the players he has brought in at Newcastle.

The reality of course is that if you don’t have the right person in charge at the top, then everything else if pretty much worthless.

Life under Pardew, Carver and McClaren was enough to convince anybody in any doubt and all Newcastle fans are hoping Rafa Benitez is here for the long haul.

Not quite there yet but two home wins this week will take Newcastle to 72 points with 13 games remaining, a dominant position that would give Rafa the perfect platform to close the season out.

Steve Bruce:

“Newcastle have done very well under Rafa Benitez this season. They have a settled team and settled position. They will be difficult to beat.

“Newcastle are flying at the moment.

“Can we go and get a result?

Can we go and get to the level required?

“Newcastle will give us a very good game.

“They have bought well. In Rafa, they have a hugely experienced man at the helm. I think that was key – securing Rafa in in the summer. That was possibly Newcastle’s biggest signing.

“Then what he has done is recruit well. The players he’s brought in have done very well. Rafa has the know-how and the crowd are right behind him.”