6 contenders as the next Newcastle United manager
Background image: Jimmy McIntyre, CC BY-SA 2.0
It had been coming. On Monday, Newcastle United and Rafael Benitez parted ways. Attributed to a contract dispute in which this summer’s transfer budget proved an unresolvable issue, the reasoning goes far beyond that. The Spaniard’s relationship with owner Mike Ashley hit the rocks a long time ago.
The two never agreed on the club’s direction. Ashley, a businessman at heart, is content to rake in profit without flexing his muscle on new signings. During the 2018/19 season, Newcastle’s £54-million spend was dwarfed by similar-stature rivals such as Everton, Leicester City, West Ham United, and Wolverhampton Wanderers. Those four clubs broke the £15-million barrier three times each on a new acquisition. At St James’ Park, only Miguel Almiron’s arrival did the same.
Under those circumstances, then, Benitez performed remarkably. Few coaches could have produced a 10th then 13th-placed finish with this Magpies squad. Yet, the 59-year-old demanded more. He realised the club’s true potential. His differences with Ashley led to one final showdown, from which he leaves the team in far better shape than he found it.
Needless to say, there’s disgust among the Toon faithful. Supporters have lost a hero to many. Time doesn’t stand still for no one, though. They must begin to look ahead.
A host of names have been linked to the vacant role. They include managerial heavyweights in Laurent Blanc and Jose Mourinho, albeit the Portuguese distanced himself three days ago. His compatriot, Sergio Conceicao is among the current frontrunners. Premier League stalwarts David Moyes and Mark Hughes aren’t far behind. Dutch duo Giovanni van Bronckhorst and Phillip Cocu have been mentioned, too. Alternatively, Chris Hughton’s return would perhaps be welcomed on Tyneside. Sam Allardyce’s not so much. That’s not to forget Burnley’s Sean Dyche and Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe, who may both view this opportunity as a step up.
Those 11 men can’t be discounted completely, yet there are six more-likely candidates to take over as Newcastle manager.