Steve Bruce is set to be sacked this week as Newcastle United’s new Saudi owners make their mark on the club they have purchased for £305million.
The St James’ Park club are now under the control of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund with British businesswoman Amanda Staveley and her advisors tasked with finding a new manager.
Bruce, 60, is far from popular with the fans and the new owners are very much aware his presence in the dug-out for Sunday’s home game against Tottenham will have a negative impact.
Steve Bruce is set to be sacked as Newcastle United manager this week after the £305million takeover by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment fund
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman is chairman of the fund and Newcastle now rank as having the wealthiest backers in world football
Amanda Staveley and her advisors will lead the search for a new manager for Newcastle
His pay-off will be around £8million, small change for the new owners, who have assets totalling £295billion, a figure increasing all the time.
Bruce’s assistant Graeme Jones is expected to be put in temporary charge for the Spurs game and potentially several more fixtures with the owners realistic that the search for Bruce’s replacement won’t be completed overnight.
So who are the names in the frame to take over as manager and who has the best credentials?
Swiss coach Favre, 63, has been out of work since Borussia Dortmund sacked him last December following a poor run of one win in five that culminated in a 5-1 home thrashing by Stuttgart.
There had been plenty of underlying causes for his dismissal, including public criticism of his tactics from senior players, a lack of enthusiasm to energise a talented young side and once again trailing Bayern Munich in the table.
But all that didn’t stop Crystal Palace trying to appoint Favre in the summer and it was only his late change of heart after a three-year contract was drawn up that saw Patrick Vieira appointed instead.
Lucien Favre’s last job was at Borussia Dortmund though he came close to taking over at Crystal Palace back in the summer
Next Newcastle manager odds
3/1 – Lucien Favre
4/1 – Antonio Conte
9/1 – Roberto Martinez
12/1 – Steven Gerrard, Eddie Howe
14/1 – Graham Potter, Brendan Rodgers
Odds from Betfair and correct as of Monday morning
It is now believed Favre is ready to return to management, however, and there was some success when at Dortmund. They twice finished second in the Bundesliga under his management and reached the knockout stages of the Champions League.
Given Newcastle’s aspirations to get back into Europe in the coming seasons, a manager like Favre with experience of the Champions League would be useful.
Newcastle’s owners will be intrigued by what he also achieved at Borussia Monchengladbach, who were relegation candidates when he took over but rose up the table to qualify for Europe’s leading competition.
Favre can also demonstrate an ability to get a tune out of high-profile players, assuming Newcastle are going to splash the cash, with the likes of Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland thriving under him at Dortmund.
The Leicester City manager has been linked with the Newcastle position ever since reports emerged that the much-delayed takeover was going to actually happen.
Leicester are 13th in the Premier League at the moment and after two seasons of agonising top four near-misses, there may be a case to suggest it is time for Rodgers to take on a new project.
He certainly comes with a good CV, having led Leicester to their first-ever FA Cup win last season as well as multiple trophies at Celtic and coming within a whisker of the Premier League at Liverpool in 2014.
Leicester have come close to cracking the top four twice, and won the FA Cup, under Rodgers
Rodgers’ various cup successes will appeal given Newcastle haven’t won any major silverware since 1969 and this is a long wait the new owners will be determined to end as soon as possible.
The 48-year-old also ticks a lot of other boxes in terms of favouring an exciting brand of football, his tactical acumen and being a likeable figure.
It remains to be seen if Rodgers can be tempted to leave Leicester, where he is contracted until 2025 and will have complete faith he can turn around their sluggish start both domestically and in the Europa League around.
It will also require a sizeable compensation payment to prise Rodgers away from a Premier League rival, though, as we’ve established, money is no object.
Another intriguing possibility is Rangers boss Steven Gerrard. It could be his final season in charge at Ibrox and Gerrard is said to be monitoring the situation on Tyneside closely.
It is to Gerrard’s enormous credit that he took on the Rangers job – which comes with intense pressure and scrutiny – as his first role in management bar a post as one of Liverpool’s youth team coaches.
He has succeeded in closing what was a sizeable gap to Old Firm rivals Celtic and then delivered Rangers’ first Scottish Premiership title in a decade last season.
Rangers boss Steven Gerrard successfully broke Celtic’s stranglehold on Scottish football
With Rangers failing to qualify for the Champions League group stage this season – a major disappointment – Gerrard, 41, may certainly feel like a fresh challenge after what would be his fourth season at Ibrox.
It’s clear Gerrard has the tough skin required for management as well as plenty of fresh ideas and it’s likely the Newcastle fans would warm to him.
The only drawbacks may well that he’s still relatively inexperienced as a manager and there will be an enormous gulf between the resources he worked with at Rangers and those available at Newcastle.
Fonseca offers Newcastle an interesting options – he brings pedigree, a high profile and a track record of winning trophies.
The Portuguese is understood to be one of the foreign candidates being considered for the role as Bruce’s successor.
Fonseca, 48, left Roma at the end of last season before Jose Mourinho came in and he came close to landing the Tottenham job over the summer.
The former Roma manager Paulo Fonseca would tick a lot of boxes for Newcastle’s new owners
The bulk of Fonseca’s success came in Ukraine with Shakhtar Donetsk, where he won three consecutive league and cup doubles.
His interest in taking over at Spurs proves he would be keen on a Premier League post and, from Newcastle’s perspective, the fact he would be available now and without the need to pay anyone compensation, is an added bonus.
Howe ended his long and successful association with Bournemouth in August last year and came close to taking the Celtic job this summer.
The 43-year-old now finds himself among the favourites to take over at Newcastle and would be available to start right away.
Howe did a wonderful job of guiding Bournemouth up through the divisions during his two spells in charge there, establishing them as a Premier League club for five years before relegation.
Eddie Howe worked wonders to establish Bournemouth as a Premier League club for five years
He would bring extensive knowledge of managing in the Premier League but it will be interesting to see how he gets on with a vastly increased budget and away from a club where he is so revered.
Howe also has no experience of coaching in European competition, something that is a medium-term aim for Newcastle’s new owners.
Undoubtedly a big name but also a coach who would bring experience of the Premier League from his time in charge of Wigan and then Everton.
The 48-year-old from Spain has been in charge of Belgium since 2016 but despite the country’s ‘Golden Generation’ holding the No 1 spot in the FIFA Rankings, they have been unable to win a piece of silverware.
Roberto Martinez hasn’t quite been able to deliver silverware with Belgium’s best generation
After Belgium could only finish fourth in the UEFA Nations League over the weekend, following a quarter-final exit from Euro 2020, it remains to be seen if Martinez wants to continue through until next year’s World Cup.
A return to club management at a well-resourced team and a project to get stuck in to back in England may appeal – but then so might the Barcelona job if Ronald Koeman gets the boot.
Certainly the most glamorous name on the list of potential candidates, Conte would undoubtedly be the man to go for if Newcastle’s owners wanted to make an impact with a big name.
Crucially, he’s also out of a job at the moment having left Inter Milan just days after securing their first Serie A title in 11 years.
Antonio Conte walked away from Inter Milan and could be tempted by a return to England
That stemmed from a disagreement with the club’s hierarchy over transfer policy but you sense that wouldn’t be any issue at Newcastle.
What’s more, he knows how to win the Premier League – having done so with Chelsea in 2017 – has many other successes on his CV and is an accomplished tactician.
Conte would want money to spend – tick – and makes no secret of seeking out projects where the owners can lay out an appealing vision. Newcastle should certainly sound the Italian out.
The odds on Potter being Newcastle’s chosen one have narrowed in recent days, not least because his Brighton team have enjoyed such a positive start to the season.
After finishes of 15th and 16th in the past two seasons, there is optimism that Brighton can steer clear of the relegation fight this year and finish mid-table or better.
Graham Potter’s Brighton have started the Premier League season in positive fashion
Potter, 46, is very much a modern coach, taking a holistic approach to running a team and isn’t afraid to switch between systems and game plans.
Quite whether he is ready to take the leap to a club now with infinite financial resources demanding success is another matter. Besides, Brighton are certain to dig their heels in.