It looks for all the world that Newcastle United are now safe from relegation, so all the talk has turned to how good a job Rafa Benitez has done at St James’ Park.

Despite not being backed financially like his Premier League peers, Benitez has been able to get the best out of his players, most of whom won him the Championship title last season, and steer the Magpies towards survival and a very possible top 10 finish.

To think, before Christmas, Newcastle were one of the favourites for relegation, and now they are safe as houses and looking up rather than down.

The win against Leicester City made it three wins on the bounce and 38 points on the board, sitting three points behind Everton with a game in hand.

All the talk at Newcastle right now is about how well Benitez is done, but it should be no surprise, as this is a world class manager who has won a Champions League. However, should the Magpies’ gaffer be named Premier League Manager of the Season?

In any other season, Benitez might have a case, but this time out, there are two men who sit above the Spaniard: Sean Dyche has worked a miracle at Burnley, guiding them to seventh place with Europa League dreams on the horizon, while Pep Guardiola has turned Manchester City in to an unstoppable juggernaut who are set to win the Premier League at a canter.

While keeping Newcastle up and putting them in the top half is impressive, Benitez’s achievements have sadly been eclipsed by those of Dyche and Guardiola, so unfortunately it will just be the Geordies who salute Rafa’s impressive season.

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