Speculation continues to mount regarding the future of Newcastle United manager Steve McClaren following a disastrous first season with the club.
Sitting 19th in the league with 10 games remaining, it looks likely the Toon could be playing Championship football next season for the first time since 2010. With a change in personnel regarding the managerial front whilst making sufficient signings in the summer, it looked like an ambitious challenge for a Europa League spot was on the cards.
Having played 10 games before clinching their first league victory, it seemed likely a fight for Europe was a distant dream. Only winning five games after, McClaren’s side have toiled in a relegation battle and despite a busy transfer window in January, they have failed to turn their fortunes around and the fans are demanding a change.
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An exit for the under-fire boss looks imminent and a surprise candidate could succeed him in the dugout and one that would certainly please the Newcastle faithful. Reports from the Sun suggest former Liverpool and Real Madrid manager Rafa Benitez looks set for a return to England’s top flight and the Magpies are keen to land him.
The Spaniard was axed by European giants Madrid after only seven months in charge despite sitting second, four points adrift of leaders Barcelona in La Liga. The decision seemed harsh, but one that has benefitted the club since.
When taking over at Liverpool in 2004, his debut season saw him lead the side to their first Champions League title in 21 years. Subsequently, he managed to win the FA Cup, Community Shield and Super Cup whilst securing regular top four finishes, becoming a fond favourite in his first spell in England.
He became interim manager at Stamford Bridge for the 2012-13 season and managed to guide the Blues to Europa League glory, whilst finishing third in the league standings. If Newcastle could lure the 55-year-old to the club, they would be punching way above their weight, especially if their fate lies in the Championship next season. This aside, for a club of the Magpies’ stature, appointing Benitez now is much needed in order to maintain their top flight status.
With the former Napoli boss currently living in the UK, it’s clear to see where his managerial future lies and Newcastle must act quickly. With safety still in their grasp, they must consider the change before the summer and with Benitez in the dugout, the Toon could well be playing with England’s big boys again next season.
Under McClaren, staying in the Premier League looks out of the question and that’s why an immediate appointment is vital. What better replacement than with a manager that has the experience of being successful in England’s top league?
Rudi Garcia and David Moyes are also rumoured to be on the managerial hit-list but they would be unwise not to appoint a manager of Benitez’s calibre. The proposed appointment must happen sooner rather than later or the unimaginable drop will start to look more and more certain for Newcastle.