According to a report in The Times this weekend, David Wagner and Brendan Rodgers are now ‘among the leading contenders’ to succeed Rafa Benitez as Newcastle United manager should he leave in the summer.
Benitez has stalled talks over a new contract with Newcastle, and the report claims that the club have begun ‘making internal contingency plans’ in case he rejects a new deal at the end of the season.
The signing of Miguel Almiron for £21m last month was made in part to persuade Benitez to commit his future to Newcastle, but it remains to be seen whether it will be enough.
The club are right to be keeping other managers on their radar. But they will have a tough time replacing Rafa should it come to that.
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Newcastle fans are struggling to envisage any other manager in the St James’s Park dugout, and aren’t best pleased at the links to Rodgers and Wagner.
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Despite some fans being unhappy with links to Rodgers and Wagner, it’s unlikely either of them would be interested anyway.
Wagner left Huddersfield by mutual consent last month, and appears to be taking a break from football management.
Rodgers meanwhile is winning trophies at Celtic and has been successful almost everywhere he’s been.
Newcastle would arguably be a step down for him and for any other rated manager.
If they’ve been watching carefully, managers should know by now that the Newcastle job is no longer an attractive one.
Rafa was one of the rare top managers to see the club’s potential, and thought he could develop the side with backing from Mike Ashley.
But he was naïve to believe he would receive anymore support than those who came before him.
His struggles have shown to the world the near impossible task of keeping Newcastle afloat on a budget.
If he leaves in the summer, the likely replacement will be much worse than those currently being linked.
Because any decent manager would now have to be truly desperate to want to work for Mike Ashley.