- Rafa Benitez led Newcastle United to a 2-1 victory over Arsenal on Sunday
- Win effectively sealed Toon’s place in the Premier League for next season
- Arsenal fans have called for Spaniard to replace Arsene Wenger
- But former Gunners star Paul Merson believes the club should look elsewhere
By contrast Arsenal’s latest defeat on the road, which leaves them a distant sixth in the table, has led to calls from supporters for Wenger to depart in the summer and to replace him with Benitez.
Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez led his side to victory over Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal on Sunday
Merson though believes this would be the wrong option for Arsenal who should look towards appointing a more entertaining manager once the Frenchman, whose existing deal runs out in 2019, departs.
‘I like Benitez – he is one of the top managers,’ Merson told talkSPORT.
‘I just think Arsenal [fans] want to see entertaining football, and I know this might sound a bit silly, but they want to see teams who go out to win football matches.
‘Benitez sort of sets his teams up – even at Liverpool – not to get beaten, and you go from there.
Benitez’s success with Newcastle has led to Arsenal fans calling for him to replace Wenger
‘Arsenal fans are staying away at the moment because it’s not entertaining enough, and I think they will need someone with a little bit more flair.
‘They need someone with longevity – someone who will get a four or five year contract and stay there – because you don’t want a Manchester United situation, where they change the manager many times quickly after Sir Alex Ferguson.’
Merson also appeared to warn Arsenal supporters of the potential fall-out in letting Wenger leave, fearing the Frenchman, who has been in charge at the club since 1996, could return to haunt the club.
Wenger looks on with assistant Steve Bould during the 2-1 loss at St James’ Park
‘I think he’ll be a manager somewhere else. He’ll get a job in two minutes when he leaves Arsenal. He’ll want to manage again,’ Merson added.
‘I look at Arsene Wenger and football is his life. He will manage again.’
‘That is the problem for Arsenal. When he does go, he could come and haunt them, because wherever he goes he could go and do something special like he did at Arsenal.’
Paul Merson believes though that Benitez is not the right man to replace Wenger