Former Newcastle player John Barnes sees a bright future for his old club.

He says that the ‘key thing’ is the presence of Rafa Benitez and is supremely confident that Newcastle will end up top half of the table next season.

John Barnes does have a word of caution in that fans can’t expect top six in their first season back but on the other hand, he states confidently that NUFC won’t be ‘anywhere near the bottom’.

However, in only a few years time he does see Newcastle able to challenge the top five.

In the meantime though he has a warning.

Rather bizarrely, Barnes says that Newcastle fans will have to forget about the ‘open’ football they watched in the Championship if they want stability and success and warns about managing fan expectations.

John Barnes obviously didn’t watch Newcastle much in the Championship as whilst NUFC finished top and scored lots of goals, the vast majority of matches saw very little open football and instead the very pragmatic and low risk approach that is Rafa Benitez’ trademark.

Overall very few supporters complained about the style of football and just like this coming season, Newcastle supporters will accept whatever needs to be done to rebuild the club at this stage.

John Barnes speaking to Ladbrokes News:

“The key thing for Newcastle is that this is Newcastle with Rafa Benitez.

“So this side will be pragmatic. I have no fears about them not being in the top-half. I’m not saying top five, six etc, but that lower top-half. I don’t think they’ll be anywhere near the bottom.

“They will get results with Rafa but next season will be about managing expectations. Liverpool and Manchester United have had that problem in the past, after Kenny Dalglish and Alex Ferguson.

“Newcastle must get results first, and maybe that means sacrificing a more attractive style of football, in order to build for the future.

“Perhaps the scare of relegation may have made the club think long-term. They’re sticking with Rafa which is a good sign.

“They played an open game in the Championship but they will need to change that and be more pragmatic back in the Premier League.

“But hopefully the club and the fans will be willing to accept that in order to become a stable Premier League club once again.

“And then in a few years time make a bid for the top five – and bring that open style of football back.”

As for his old club Watford though, ironically (considering what has happened at Newcastle under Mike Ashley) John Barnes says that they are ‘the most unusually’ run club in the Premier League – Newcastle fans will look forward to seeing Daryl Janmaat again…:

“Watford are the most unusual club in the country. They really are.

“Their philosophy and what they’ve done in the last few years should be an example in what you shouldn’t do to survive. But somehow they have.

“They have players on loan, they’ve had a lot of managers, none of the players are committed to the club.

“That’s not a recipe for stability, it’s an unstable club.

“I don’t know how they’ve stayed up and I have to say I don’t think they can continue to be run like they are and be successful.

“They are going to have to get some stability.

“Watford’s other problem in the last couple of years has been that they’ve started seasons well, and then they’ve been poor in the final months.

“But at the start of the year, if you offered Watford fans that finishing position, they may well have taken it.

“So it’s about perspective too. It’s always better to finish the season strongly, but they’ve been ending seasons very negatively.

“Watford’s situation for me is inexplicable, I don’t know how they do it.”