The Rafalution at Newcastle United will come to an end this month. The Magpies have confirmed their head coach, Rafael Benítez, will walk away from St James’ Park when his contract expires at the end of June.
“We have worked hard to extend Rafa’s contract over a significant period of time, however it has not been – and will not be – possible to reach an agreement with Rafa and his representatives,” Newcastle’s statement read.
“We would like to thank Rafa and his coaching team for their efforts over the last three years and their significant contribution to what has been collectively achieved.”
A number of clubs are weighing up a move to appoint Beniítez as their manager with Chinese side Dalian Yifang reportedly prepared to offer an eye-watering £12million-per-year.
Newcastle will have a big job on their hands replacing the former Liverpool and Real Madrid coach. Finding a manager who can get the best out of the current crop of players, just as Benítez did, is a task very few are capable of. But with owner Mike Ashley reluctant to spend in order to reinforce the squad, that is the reality his replacement will face.
With this in mind, we’ve taken a look at four managers Ashley can approach to steady what will be a rocky ship after Benítez’s departure on a shoestring budget.
Sacked by Birmingham City after falling out with chief executive Xuandong Ren earlier this month, Monk has been something of a journeyman manager. He had close to two years with Swansea City, just shy of a year at Leeds United, around six months with Middlesbrough and then 15 months with the Blues.
But there tends to be a reason behind each departure. At Swansea, the club feared relegation so acted swiftly. Leeds reportedly wanted to shop in the foreign market, something Monk wasn’t overly keen on. Boro felt Tony Pulis was their best route back into the Premier League while Birmingham sold one of their better players (Jota) much to their manager’s dismay.
He’s used to working with limited finances and he does tend to do well given the circumstances. He’s not going to get the Magpies into Europe but he could get them playing better, easier on the eye football. He’s not in Benítez’s league but few managers are.
If Newcastle want a project, Monk might well be the man to spearhead it.
This is a weird one. The Toon Army may think fondly of Moyes as it was under his management that Sunderland were relegated from the Premier League. However, it’s unlikely they’ll want him to take charge at St James’ Park.
The former Manchester United manager is reliable, but that isn’t necessarily a good thing in this instance. His teams play safe football. But, unlike Benítez and José Mourinho, he lacks a personality that endears himself to the fans.
Supporters forgive style for a cause. Mourinho and Benítez seem to be able to get fans onside to spark a revolution, an us against the world mentality. Moyes doesn’t. Barring his spell with Everton, fans haven’t been on the former one-time Preston North End manager’s side despite him doing relatively well in periods.
Despite this, Ashley might view Moyes as someone who will work within his means and deliver Premier League survival on a yearly basis.
The Frenchman is an intriguing option. He did well in his first year as manager of Nice, finishing seventh in Ligue 1. His team claimed a scalp against Lyon and managed a 1-1 draw with Paris Saint-Germain. The achievement is even more impressive when you consider he lost star forward Mario Balotelli in January and failed to replace him.
He helped develop Youcef Atal, one of the most highly-rated full-backs in world football now, as well as turning Wylan Cyprien into a midfielder Europe’s top teams could all do with. It was under Vieira that Allan Saint-Maximin had his most prolific season to date, too.
It’s clear he can harness talent. He trusts youth and he’s tactically switched on enough to get results against the very best in the league. Vieira commands respect and he has contacts at many of the big clubs. The former Arsenal midfielder could help shape Newcastle for the next decade if he’s given the opportunity.
Sooner or later, Dyche is going to have to leave Burnley for something new. He’s proven his style works and he’s shown he can get the best out of players, developing a number of them before selling them for huge profits.
His CV is one Ashley probably dreams about.
It helps that his style isn’t too dissimilar to that of Benítez’s which, in theory, means the transition should be a lot smoother. However, like the Spaniard, he would need backing in the market to bring in attacking players capable of executing his style.
Dyche could be the best bet for Newcastle as things stand. If any of the four can assure Premier League survival it’s going to be the Burnley boss.