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Newcastle draw up shortlist of managers as search goes on

Garry Monk
Garry Monk

Newcastle have begun drawing up a shortlist as they look for a replacement for manager Rafael Benitez after finally having to turn to plan B.

It is understood owner Mike Ashley and managing director Lee Charnley are assessing the field having expressly declined to consider alternatives while they tried to thrash out a way forward with the 59-year-old.

A series of names have already been linked with the vacancy, although sources close to Jose Mourinho - Sky Bet's 3/1 favourite - have distanced the former Chelsea, Inter Milan, Real Madrid and Manchester United boss from a post once occupied to such popular acclaim by his mentor, Sir Bobby Robson.

The Magpies announced on Monday the news that no fan wanted to hear, that Benitez and his coaching staff would be leaving St James' Park on Sunday when his existing contract expires after a little more than three years on Tyneside.

It is understood that the parting of the ways came as a surprise to the Spaniard, who had been primed for a further round of talks after weeks of largely fruitless discussions over an extension offer which was tabled in May.

However, the word on Tyneside is that the club too was ready for one final throw of the dice until the sportswear magnate's patience finally snapped with the Benitez camp.

The latest development predictably sparked collective fury on Tyneside, where a fanbase whose antipathy for Ashley is long-standing sided firmly with a manager who had reconnected them with the club and raised optimism that a brighter future could lie ahead.

For many, only the Sports Direct tycoon's departure will open the door to that brighter future following a turbulent 12 years which have brought two relegations and two subsequent promotions, but have been spent in the main fighting for Premier League survival and little more.

The club has been formally up for sale since October 2017, with Amanda Staveley and Peter Kenyon having failed to wrest it from Ashley's grasp, and the fact that the current regime is having to deal with the managerial vacancy suggests that Sheikh Khaled Bin Zayed Al Nahyan's ongoing takeover bid has no imminent prospect of being concluded successfully.

It is a situation Ashley would rather have avoided amid the uncertainty over his continued presence at the club, and it remains to be seen just how easy it will be to persuade a manager of fitting calibre to sign on the dotted line giving the restrictions under which he would have to work should the owner remain in place, or knowing that a change of ownership could have significant repercussions for him.

Club sources have played down early speculation surrounding the likes of Avram Grant, Garry Monk and ex-New Zealand coach Anthony Hudson, while former Sunderland bosses David Moyes, Steve Bruce and Roy Keane are not thought to figure prominently in the reckoning.

Former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger and Leicester's title-winning manager Claudio Ranieri have been mentioned in dispatches, but the likes of former Paris St Germain chief Laurent Blanc, AC Milan's former boss Gennaro Gattuso, Nice's Patrick Vieira and Giovanni Van Bronckhorst, who left Feyenoord at the end of the season, are more likely targets.

Newcastle are unlikely to act in haste amid a febrile atmosphere on Gallowgate, although the first tranche of players are due back for pre-season training on July 4 with newly-appointed Under-23s head coach Neil Redfearn currently the most senior member of football staff on the books.

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Most Read Football

A complete list of every completed summer 2019 transfer window deal1

Transfer Window: Done Deals

Get all the complete signings in the summer 2019 football transfer window from the Premier League, Sky Bet EFL and Europe.

Pablo Hernandez celebrates his goal against Western Sydney Wanderers2

WATCH: Hernandez brilliance wins it

Leeds finished their pre-season tour of Australia with a 2-1 victory over WS Wanderers, with a wonderful goal from Pablo Hernandez securing the result.

Paper Talk has all the latest football gossip from the back pages3

Paper Talk: Big Salah deal

Liverpool could be ready to make Mohamed Salah the Premier League's top-paid player when they offer him a contract worth £22.4m a year.

Mason Greenwood: Manchester United striker celebrates his goal against Inter Milan in pre-season4

Greenwood on target in United win

Mason Greenwood fired Man United to victory against Inter Milan on a night that saw Ashley Young subjected to loud and frequent jeers by fans.

Keep up to date with all the latest transfer news and rumours in our Transfer Market
5

The Transfer Market: Latest updates

Get all the latest transfer news, confirmed deals and latest odds from around the Premier League, Sky Bet EFL and Europe.

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