Newcastle are currently looking for a new manager after sacking Steve Bruce and have been linked with several candidates, including former Roma boss Paulo Fonseca
They have Paulo Fonseca, Roberto Martinez and Frank Lampard among others scrapping to be the next boss.
The fan base has been reinvigorated, managerial change started with the exit of Steve Bruce. And there’ve been bold statements of ambition to become challengers in the next five years.
Two weeks since the completion of the controversial £305m deal to oust Mike Ashley, and the opportunities for the Geordie club are becoming clear – as are the massive challenges that lie ahead.
On the pitch they are a club in crisis, 19th in the league, relegation threatened, winless and with the worst defence in the top flight.
Off it, Newcastle’s new ownership group, led by Amanda Staveley – but with decisions signed off by the 80pc stakeholders the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia – are pedalling hard to keep up with the amount of change needed.
With Bruce gone at a cost of £8m and Ashley sold up with profit of around £70m, the human shields, the lightning rods of discontent, are gone, throwing the spotlight on the new owners.
The managerial hunt has reached the interview stage, with candidates putting their case. A defining moment is coming for the inexperienced new regime.
They need a top coach, a club builder, a visionary, a mood enhancer, a faith healer, a pied piper. Does that personal exit? Rafa Benitez left in June 2019 and is now at Everton.
Fonseca leads the way – if he was good enough for Spurs in June before a glitch, why not not Newcastle?
Steven Gerrard, Martinez, Eddie Howe, Lucien Favre complete the field, who may end up effectively interim bosses to lift United to top half respectability rather than the promised top four/title charge envisaged in a decade.
It is the first, but not their only challenge. Legal action lies ahead if rival Premier League clubs force through a permanent block on sponsorship deals from companies associated with owners.
Scrutiny remans intense of the Saudi state involvement, with human rights, especially those of woman and the gay community, not going to go away. If Newcastle issue an edict on inclusivity, the question is immediately thrown back to the PIF owners and their board packed with government ministers.
On the pitch Newcastle play Crystal Palace, with caretaker Graeme Jones in charge and facing questions on Friday. The defence needs to be shored up, the midfield given discipline and Callum Wilson needs to keep fit and scoring.
They can’t rely on a spending spree in the New Year – defenders and a dominant midfielder the priority. There are 14 league games between now and mid January and 20 points needed before then.
But in two week big possibilities have emerged. Untapped potential to spend up to £190m because of United’s profitability in recent years.
The potential for untapped commercial revenue – even without Saudi help – given it has fallen £200m behind rivals it matched 15 years ago.
There’s a mountain to climb for the Saudis and Staveley, and finding a new boss is the first step on the foothills. The candidates:
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Former Roma boss who came close to taking the Spurs job in June. Successful all conquering spell at Shakhtar Donetsk winning the league three times and beating Man City on the way to the last 16 of the Champions League. Pledges to bring front-foot attacking play.
Out of work Swiss coach, top level experience with Hertha Berlin, Borussia Monchengladbach and Dortmund plus Lille and known to promise an attacking style and develop young talent. But fell out with Toon favourite Allan Saint Maximin at Nice.
Out of work former Bournemouth club builder who knows the Premier League and remains close to Callum WIlson and Ryan Fraser. Relegated in his last job, and could be seen as a holding position while the consortium reorganise.
Belgium boss who has worked four times with Toon coach Graeme Jones and would cost only £2m to get out of international contract, or do a job share. Keen for a return to club management in the Premier League.
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Out of work having cut his teeth in coaching at Derby – narrowly missing promotion through the play offs – and Chelsea where he gave youth a chance. Ambitious and thoughtful.
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League winning Rangers’ boss who’s ultimate destination might be Anfield, but who needs a top flight club to prove himself. Tough, well connected and keen to rise up the ladder, and Toon would be the ideal place to prove himself further.