Rafa Benitez Leaves Newcastle - Who’s The Favourite To Replace Him?
After over 3 years in the North East, Newcastle United have announced that Rafael Benitez will be leaving the club at the end of his contract on the 30th June. Rafael Benitez and Mike Ashley spent over a week in contract negotiations after the end of the season, but an agreement couldn’t be reached.
Benitez joined the club towards the end of the 15/16 season. With just over a month to implement his ideas, he failed to keep Newcastle in the Premier League but remarkably stayed on for the Championship campaign. Returning to the Premier League at the first attempt, Benitez has led the club to a 10th and 13th place finish, despite limited investment.
With a ‘potential takeover’ apparently on the cards, no manager and a squad that is likely looking for any way out of the club, this summer has become even more important. Bet UK have taken a look at some of the managers tipped to try and steady the sinking ship that is Newcastle United.
From a successful Champions League manager to a failed Championship manager - Garry Monk is the apparent favourite to take on the Newcastle job. Since taking his first managerial role at Swansea in March 2014, Monk has spent the last 3 years in the Championship. After keeping Swansea up that season, a poor start to the 15/16 season saw him sacked before Christmas. The following summer, he headed north to Leeds where he failed to get into the playoffs despite an impressive start to the season. In June 2017, he again took over a promotion hopeful in Middlesbrough but again, failed to impress and was sacked in December. After joining Birmingham in March 2018, he appeared to find some stability. But due to financial problems, Birmingham were deducted points that firmly put them out of reach of the playoffs last season. Problems continued into the summer and Monk was sacked just last week. With under 100 games experience in the Premier League with just a 36% win rate, it will be a step down for Newcastle.
Remarkably, Jose Mourinho is also amongst the favourites to take over at St James. This might seem highly unlikely but with the continuing takeover rumours, it’s been reported that the Bin Zayed Group would want the Portuguese manager to take the reins. Mourinho has also spoken recently about his desire to ‘start a project’ rather than take over a team that is expecting immediate success. Regardless of the potential whispering, a lot has to happen for Jose to consider Newcastle. Mike Ashley would have to do something he has reportedly been trying to do for 3 years and sell the club. Even after that, Bin Zayed Group would have to follow with their promise and negotiate a deal with a manager who has been notoriously difficult in the past. This looks like a non-starter, but until a takeover has been officially ruled out, Mourinho’s name will continue to be mentioned.
Arteta is simultaneously the least ambitious of the names mentioned but also the most interesting. Since retiring, he has formed part of Pep Guardiola’s backroom staff at Manchester City. He was heavily linked with the Arsenal job last summer after Arsene Wenger’s departure, but was eventually snubbed for Unai Emery. He clearly has some talent to be poached by Guardiola and after learning from him for the last 3 years, he could be an interesting appointment. But at the same time, the risk of hiring an unproven manager is unlikely to inspire Newcastle fans. At a time when they are becoming serious relegation candidates, Arteta is unlikely to be the man who can keep Newcastle in the Premier League. He would probably be suited to a steady club that has no target of immediate success, or without a threat of relegation, just so he can get used to the job role. At Newcastle, both will be expected of him from Mike Ashley, and Arteta would be foolish to take it.
If there was no history between Newcastle United and Chris Hughton, then Hughton would likely be the favourite for the job. Back in 2009, Hughton took over at the end of Newcastle’s unsuccessful Premier League season and was appointed manager ahead of the 09/10 Championship season. Hughton’s Newcastle stormed the league, winning 102 points and going the whole season undefeated at home. Back in the Premier League, Newcastle had a strong start to the season. But after just 5 games without a win, Hughton was sacked and replaced by Alan Pardew. In the weeks previous, Newcastle had beaten Arsenal away, recorded a 5-1 win in the North East derby and held Chelsea to draw. To say that Hughton’s sacking was unwarranted is putting it likely and we wouldn’t blame him for still holding a grudge against Ashley. Hughton is still loved by the fans so would not be an unpopular appointment, but it’s highly unlikely after their past relationship.
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