Richard Keys says that he has had to reluctantly admit that Rafa Benitez is turning things around at St James Park.

The former Sky Sports presenter has made clear in the past he isn’t a fan of the new Newcastle Manager but says recent results have shown the influence he is having with the players.

Newcastle are now unbeaten in three and though it is only five points from nine, the fact the two draws were achieved against the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool after going one and two goals down, shows a massive departure from the Steve McClaren team who would have collapsed both times.

Radical changes in personnel and tactics have brought about the change and Richard Keys sees only one problem.

The TV presenter believes that Newcastle have run out of games and like most Newcastle fans he wonders ‘what might have happened had he gone in sooner’.

The two things Rafa has given Newcastle supporters is a little bit of self-respect when it comes to this shambles of a club, plus a little bit of hope despite there only being three games left.

This weekend is vital and to have any hope, Newcastle surely have to be out of the relegation zone after Saturday’s fixtures. United trailing Norwich and Sunderland by a point, so needing to beat Palace and rely on Stoke and Arsenal to beat the Mackems and the Canaries respectively.

Richard Keys fancies Sunderland to be the ones to stay up and that is the view of the bookies as well – but positive results (for Newcastle) this weekend could be a game changer.

Richard Keys writing on his own website:

“The Toon got a really good point at Anfield.

“As you know, he is not my favourite, but Benitez is on a really tidy run – five points from nine.

“It makes you wonder what might have happened had he gone in sooner…fair play to him.

“Having said that I still fancy Sunderland to get out of it.”