Benitez, who has been handed the manager title denied to McClaren, has brought in his own coaching staff of Fabio Pecchia, Francisco de Míguel Moreno and Antonio Gómez Pérez.
But there is a get-out clause in his contract which allows him to leave in May if the club go down.
Stats, however, back up his confidence that Newcastle will survive this season. At Liverpool and Chelsea, he had a win ratio of 55.5 per cent, the seventh highest in Premier League history.
But no manager has joined a bottom three side at this stage of the season and kept them up and Benitez’s only previous experience of a relegation scrap was 20 years ago as coach of Extremadura – and he lost that battle.
McClaren was finally put out of his misery just before 10.30am yesterday with a phone call from Charnley after declining the opportunity to be told the club’s decision face to face.