Alan Pardew’s shock departure from Newcastle to take the reins at Crystal Palace continued the managerial madness of the festive season. With West Brom sacking Alan Irvine, and Palace relieving Neil Warnock of his duties, it’s been a busy time on the managerial merry-go-round, and the top job in the North East remains a vacant position.
It’s generally been known as one of the best jobs in English football in the past, but at the moment it has the feel of a poisoned chalice with animosity between the fans and owner, Mike Ashley, at fever pitch. The ‘Toon Army’ never took to Alan Pardew, and despite a recent upturn in form, many were still calling for his head. The appointment at Palace came very much out of left-field though, and Newcastle fans must now be wondering why he’d leave to join a club in the thick of a relegation battle.
There have been some strange things happening at Newcastle under Mike Ashley’s ownership, and the club have already made clear that they are looking for a ‘Head Coach’ rather than a manager, with MD Lee Charnley, and Chief Scout Graham Carr set to search for Pardew’s successor. This may be the biggest pointer as far as the betting goes, as more experienced managers may swerve the job due to a lack of control. The next Newcastle manager will have to deal with financial constraints and possibly little to no input on transfers, which makes it a much less appealing position than it appears on the face of things. While Palace and West Brom have moved quickly to appoint managers in time to make signings in the January transfer window, Newcastle appear to be happy to bide their time and wait until the end of the week to announce the new man, with John Carver expected to take the reins against Chelsea on the weekend. This may also be a pointer towards their intentions as far as transfer business goes, and again does not bode well for a ‘big name’ manager to come in.
Steve McClaren – +500 with Bet365
McClaren is doing a great job at Derby County, and after missing out on promotion in the play-off final to QPR last season, they are primed for another tilt at the big time this year. He has already distanced himself from the job, and claimed he is perfectly happy to continue the work he has started at Derby. He would certainly like another crack at a high profile job now that his stock has risen again, but a move to Newcastle would come with all sorts of pressure and he may prefer to wait for a better opportunity to come along, or indeed stay at Derby to take them into the Premier League. The odds are plenty short enough for a candidate who has effectively ruled himself out of the running.
Remi Garde – +600 with Betvictor
Former Arsenal defender Remi Garde is currently taking a sabbatical after a successful three-year spell at Lyon, and having worked on the continent, he’d be used to the format of working as a head coach rather than a manager. However, he’s a man who won’t be short of offers when he returns to football, and it seems unlikely he’d take on the Newcastle job with the financial constraints that come with it.
Hoddle’s name is banded about whenever a managerial vacancy arises in the Premier League, and the man who is currently working as a part-time coach at QPR may fancy another stint in management. However, he’s resisted the overtures of several clubs in the last few years, and it’s questionable whether he would want to put himself in the firing line at a club that has proved difficult to manage over the last few years.
Caretaker manager John Carver has already thrown his hat into the ring, and said he would love to take the job on full-time, but it remains to be seen if the job would be entrusted to a rookie manager, despite his affinity and knowledge of the club. Mike Ashley is aware of the importance of staying in the Premier League, and it seems more likely that the board will opt for someone with a little more experience. A draw at home to Burnley and an FA Cup loss to Leicester in Carver’s two games in charge will have done little to help his chances.
An intersting outsider is Ally McCoist, who handed in his resignation at Rangers in December. Mike Ashley owns a stake in the Scottish club, and there were rumours around at the time of Pardew’s leaving, that a deal may have been struck between the three clubs, whereby Palace avoided paying compensation to take Pardew from Newcastle. Of course, these things are all hearsay, but stranger things have happened in football and McCoist has proven his ability to work well under severe financial constraints. He’s unlikely to be worried about working as a head coach rather than a manager, and will be keen to take his chance as a manager in England. It could be the perfect fit for Mike Ashley, who appears to like a manager who will toe the ‘party line’, and won’t ask for hundreds of millions of investment in his playing squad.
That’s perhaps one of the biggest reasons that Tim Sherwood seems a very unlikely fit, as he showed how outspoken he was when he took the reins at Spurs. He did well enough at White Hart Lane, and appears to be happy to wait for the right opportunity to come along, having already turned down Crystal Palace before they hired Neil Warnock.
There are other managers in contention, such as Dick Advocaat, Thomas Tuchel, and Paul Clement (assistant at Real Madrid), but it’s hard to see how the club can attract any of those names. McCoist looks like a feasible choice at a decent price, and like Palace in the summer, Newcastle may not find themselves in a position to pick and choose.
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