Rafa Benitez's contract is now left with just under six months remaining, meaning that Benitez is now free to walk from the club, without anybody having to pay the £6 million contract clause. Despite this, Rafa looks determined to remain at the club, at least until the end of the season. In the event that a takeover doesn't occur at St. James' Park between now and the end of the season, it looks very likely that the hero of the club will leave, before things get any worse for him and the squad.
This, obviously, will leave the board scurrying around to find a replacement as soon as humanly possible. So, to save time for everyone at the club, and the fans, I have compiled together a shortlist of potential candidates for the role on Tyneside. Here they are:
1. Slavisa Jokanovic
The ex- Serbian footballer was sacked from Fulham earlier in the season following a poor league position and woeful defending after a magical promotion turnaround last season which saw Fulham promote as 3rd- place playoff winners and then enjoy spending over £100 million on players including stars like Jean Michael Seri, Alfie Mawson and Aleksandr Mitrovic. Jokanovic has been heavily praised for his ability to make his teams attack well and score frequently, something Newcastle have been heavily lacking across all competitions over the past couple of Premier League seasons. On a negative, the Serb has been criticised for his inability to coach a defensive strategy. However, the main positive in Newcastle United's team is their strong defensive mentality and ability to prevent goals as players like Fabian Schar, Federico Fernandez and Jamaal Lascelles are all making the headlines for stopping attackers from reaching Martin Dubravka, who currently has the most saves from shots inside the six yard box in Europe's top 5 leagues this season. In conclusion, if Slavisa Jokanovic was able to pump goals into this Newcastle United side, the Mags would be able to climb the league table and potentially find themselves in a top-six European spot.
2. David Wagner
The ex- Borrusia Dortmund assistant manager recently jumped ship from his role as Huddersfield boss, presumably due to the fact the Terriers found themselves rock-bottom of the premier league table and are still there after his leave and are now 4 points behind 19th place Fulham, with 15 games remaining.
David Wagner has managed to exceed expectations in his two years managing in the top flight of English football as many people expected David Wagner's side to return to the Championship ahead of this season. David Wagner spent time in Germany working under now Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp and seems experienced in the popular gegenpressing tactic which sees teams quickly look to regain possession after losing the ball, rather than trying to regroup in defence, and potentially see their opposition spark a counter-attack. The magpies tend to be on the smaller end of the possession in their games in the Premier League, meaning that if Newcastle United are to gain more possession, that could lead to more goals in Newcastle United's games.
3. Leonardo Jardim
Finally, for possibly the most unrealistic option on the list but Rafa Benitez is currently in charge so you never know what could happen, but ex- Monaco and Sporting CP boss Leonardo Jardim was replaced by French icon Thierry Henry back in October after Monaco's horrendous form, finding them still sat second-bottom of Ligue 1 in France. Despite this poor run of results, Leonardo Jardim is still seen as a top-class manager as he stands with the 16/17 Ligue 1 title to his name, along with a Champions League semi-final against Juventus, that same season. Jardim also controlled the rise of 20-year old FIFA World Cup winner Kylian Mbappe, along with the rise of other world superstars like Manchester City winger Bernardo Silva, Atletico Madrid winger Thomas Lemar and Monaco full-back Djibril Sidibe.
As for Jardim's tactical superiority, he is not slacking. The goals produced from the ever-present Champions League side over the past 4 years have been spectacular. Jardim knows how to make a team attack and create goal scoring opportunities from nothing. He is not lacking skills in the defensive department, he can control a team well but during this season with Monaco his side leaked many goals and definitely struggled to defend at crucial times, even with a fairly good defence and good-quality goalkeeper. I do still believe he could be the right man for the job at Newcastle United, come following seasons.
That is my managerial shortlist for if Rafa Benitez is to leave, if you have any queries, please contact @talkofthetyne on Instagram.