Newcastle’s search for a new manager is gathering pace, and the real approaches to candidates can be made after the expiration of Rafa Benitez’s contract on Sunday.
With a shortlist apparently drawn up, and some interesting, young characters allegedly on it, they could be thrust into a red hot cauldron at St James’ Park, with fans’ anger showing little sign of dissipating.
If it is one of the younger, less experienced names that is given the job, they will have their skills tested from the outset, with a number of issues needing urgently addressed.
He will likely already have a pre-determined idea who his back-room staff will be, and it should not be too hard a task to bring fellow coaches to the club, so he can leave those negotiations to those above him.
We look at some of the most important tasks the new man will be immediately faced with.
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Uniting the fan-base behind them
With the amount of dissent aimed at the club following their awful treatment of Rafa Benitez, whoever comes in is certain to be asked how he plans to get the fans behind him, and his project, given the talk of protests and boycotts.
It is crucial for his future success that he gives a diplomatic, reassuring answer, and could determine the sort of reception – if he is an underwhelming appointment – and backing he will get from the Geordie public.
Indeed, if Lee Charnley is sitting next to him at a press conference, it would be intriguing to see if he will even allow the new boss to answer all questions put to him, and perhaps the managing director could give some answers himself, although the likelihood of that is very remote.
Strengthening the squad
With time ticking down until the start of the new season and the closure of the transfer window, there will be little time to waste in getting new players into the club.
The only two positions in which you could say Newcastle is well-stocked is at goalkeeper and centre-back. Every other area of the pitch needs improvement.
In terms of strikers, the team is down to the bare bones, and at least two forwards – one of which must be a proven goalscorer – need to be signed as soon as possible.
Reassuring the current senior players
Rumours have been circulating that members of the senior squad are unhappy at the departure of Benitez, and that some are questioning their futures on Tyneside as a result.
It will be up to the new manager to speak to them all both individually and as a group, to share his vision for the club, and make sure they are all on board with his plan.
Keeping disgruntled players happy will not be an easy job, and if any are uncertain after speaking to him, he will have a decision to make.
He can either tell them if they are not with him, they will be sold, as only players wanting to play for the shirt will be entertained, or he can take the hard-line stance of telling them they are contracted to Newcastle United, not the previous management team, and they will honour their contracts until a time that he decides to let them move on.
Decide on which youngsters to bring into the senior squad
With a whole new Academy and reserve team structure, along with a new senior manager, there will not be many coaches at the club who can advise on the qualities of the younger players.
Only Ben Dawson will be in a position to tell him who he thinks can make the immediate step up to the senior level.
Due to the lateness of the appointment, the new boss will have very little time to run the rule over them himself, so he will have a difficult job to decide who to bring forward.
But those types of decision are what he will be getting paid a handsome salary for, and finding the next Sean Longstaff from the academy could save the club a lot of money.
Deciding the futures of the outcast players
It will be interesting to see what the new man does about players like Jack Colback, Rolando Aarons, et al.
Deemed surplus to requirements by Benitez, will he offer them another chance to stake a claim?
Players who thought their Newcastle opportunity had gone, may now think they have a chance to resurrect their St James’ Park careers.
It is probable that he will want to start with a clean slate and offer everyone the same opportunity to find a place in his Premier League squad, but it would still be something of a surprise to see a player like Colback make a sensational first team return.