It was confirmed earlier this week that Rafa Benitez would be leaving Newcastle United at the end of his contract. News that no Newcastle fan wanted to hear, but some were not surprised by. After all we are living in the era of Ashley and a how-to guide to incompetence.

As if summer’s weren’t bad enough as a Newcastle fan, wondering who we buy, how may freebies and loans would be incoming, and a myriad of targets that they just ‘couldn’t get over the line!’ To add to that this summer we have a ‘proposed’ takeover (where have we heard that one before?). Now we have the added stress of having to search for a new manager, who by the looks of it won’t get a full preseason with the squad, or whats left of it!

Given the hierarchies history of appointing managers with questionable history, apart from Keegan Rafa of course, you can’t forgive the loyal NUFC support being resigned to the fact we may see a Mark Hughes, Tony Pulis or god forbid the return of Alan Pardew. Luckily some of the managers being linked to the jobs make for better reading. Understandably the majority of Newcastle fans want Rafa back, but lets face it while Ashley still owns the club, got more chance of Sunderland being in the Premier League next season.

Out of all the names linked, I am going to rule out current Porto manager Sergio Conceicao straight away, not because he isn’t qualified, but because apparently he has a £18 million release clause! Ashley won’t even pay that for a manager never mind a manager. Similarly I am going to rule out Jose Mourinho, not because he isn’t a good manager, but because his ears pricked up when he heard possible Middle East money at St James. So here are my picks from the names mentioned:


Mikel Arteta

The 37 year old Spaniard is current Pep’s number 2 at City, a position which is his first coaching role. Working under possibly one of the best managers at the minute, and playing under one of the others in Arsene Wenger, Arteta has had first hand experience of how to coach. Having helped City to several major championships, including successive Premier league titles, and working with some of the best players in the world on a daily basis, it is only a matter of time before the former midfielder takes his own staring role. But at a time when it seems the fans and the club are at war with each other, could someone who hasn’t had the role before be a bit of a risk? With a possible buy-out clause as well could add to Arteta being a non starter. With rumours of a Director of Football model being introduced, it would allow Arteta to concentrate solely on coaching the first team. However being a somewhat unknown I feel he should be an option, but shouldn’t be first on the list.


Gennaro Gattuso

We all know what Gattuso was like as a player, a hard midfield enforcer, and a bit of a nutter, and from what I can gather is the same as a manager. Gattuso’s last job was at AC Milan, where he was given the top job after looking after the Under 19 squad. Unfortunately he finds himself without a job at the minute, not because he was sacked, but walked out simply because he couldn’t steer the Milan side to the Champions League. While at Milan he did have an average of 1.73 points per game (ppg) and favoured a 4-3-3 formation, similar to that that Rafa has been using over the past 3 years. Given the build up of Newcastle’s squad he may have to tweak that bit, possibly even sticking to Rafa’s preferred formation of 5-2-3, but Gattuso has proved one thing in his time as a manager, and that he prefers a more attacking style of play. He would also tick a lot of the boxes rumoured for the next ‘Head Coach’, he has worked under the Director of Football model before, although he has worked with a limited budget per se, he had similar to what Newcastle are offering in terms of spend, and more importantly he wouldn’t demand a buy out being unemployed.


Patrick Vieira

Currently at Nice, via New York City and a spell at Man City, Vieira is someone known to the NUFC Hierarchy, having interviewed for the job prior to Rafa taking the helm. Similar to Gattuso the former Gunners midfielder favours a 4-3-3 formation, and holds a UEFA Pro Licence. Vieira has slowly built up a reputation for himself, and has stated that he would like to manage in the Premier League eventually. Another advantage would be that he has previously worked under a strict budget, although that could now change with Nice under new ownership, and has bought well with a limited funds to spend. Although so far he hasn’t won anything as manager, I get the feeling that isn’t a major stumbling block as a prospective NUFC manager. He would however be only allowed to speak to Charnley if a release clause is met (unknown at the minute), which may put the powers that be off any possible deal, after all why should they spend money?


Giovanni Van Bronkhorst

The last name on my list, is personally my pick to replace Rafa. GVB has worked his way through the ranks at Feyenoord, and has averaged 1.99 ppg in a four year spell with the Dutch side. Although he has worked with a budget, and under a similar model to the rumoured direction the club want to take, it has not hindered him in his success. Van Bronkhorst in a four year spell lifted five trophies with the Rotterdam club, including a league title, beating both Ajax and PSV to the post, he has also won two Dutch Cups, and 2 Dutch Super Cups (their version of the community shield). GVB also prefers to go with a defensive 4-3-3, something that would carry on from Rafa’s tactics. He has also left the Dutch club by his own choice, seeking new adventures and challenges! Lets face it, working under Ashley is certainly a challenge.

So there we have it, my four choices for the vacant top job at Newcastle. Personally I would go for Van Bronkhorst as first choice, with Gattuso in a close second. With GVB, Arteta and Vieira all playing in the Premier League at varying points, they will know what the Geordie faithful are like to play against, and will understand the club. This isn’t to say Gattuso is at a disadvantage in this respect, having played for Rangers, he will have a general idea of the region, and with a Scottish wife will probably not find it hard to settle.

Ultimately a lot of us would prefer to see Rafa back in the dugout come the Arsenal game, but that at this point is totally reliant on a takeover, and him not accepting an offer from China as soon as his contract ends on June 30th.

The question remains whether any of these choices could work under Ashley, and deal with the limitations that come as being a Newcastle manager, but would certainly be a tough job for any manager. If we are to rebuild then why not a younger manager who will bring new thinking towards the job.

tell me what you think!




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