Newcastle’s search for a replacement for manager Rafael Benitez will be dictated by the state of play in Mike Ashley’s efforts to sell the club, with four names reportedly on their shortlist.
Press Association Sport claims the Magpies’ owner is seeking clarity on the progress being made by interested parties, principally Dubai-based Sheikh Khaled Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, with which his representatives have been holding talks in recent weeks over a potential takeover.
At best, any conclusion appears to be several weeks, if not months away and that could mean appointing a manager on a short-term basis.
But if Ashley decides there is little prospect of a sale going through, he faces a very different scenario.
Agents have wasted little time in putting the names of their clients forward for the vacancy at St James’ Park, which was created on Monday when Ashley finally lost patience after protracted negotiations with the Benitez camp and unilaterally ended the talks.
As a result, the 59-year-old Spaniard will leave the club when his contract expires at midnight on Sunday and the search for a replacement will begin in earnest.
Managing director Lee Charnley has been tasked with drawing up a shortlist, although Newcastle cannot make formal approaches while Benitez remains at the helm.
However, the state of play on the takeover front will determine whether he is looking for a short-term appointment to bridge the gap to a new owner taking up the reins, or someone who is prepared to work under the well-established constraints of the Ashley regime on a longer-term basis should the sportswear magnate remain at the helm.
According to a report from The Telegraph on Thursday there are three candidates on Newcastle’s shortlist: namely Nice boss Patrick Vieira, Rangers manager Steven Gerrard, and Manchester City coach Mikel Arteta.
However, the London Evening Standard claims that the latter has been backed to take the City job when Pep Guardiola leaves the club.
Finally, the Daily Mail claims that Burnley boss Sean Dyche is also on Newcastle’s radar, but the Magpies would have to pay a £10m compensation fee to land him.
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