Newcastle set for new era and new boss
New dawn
Published: Oct 14, 2021 04:23 PM
Newcastle United fans celebrate the sale of the club on October 7. Photo: VCG

Newcastle United fans celebrate the sale of the club on October 7. Photo: VCG

The biggest story of the international break in the English Premier League has been the takeover at long awaited Newcastle United.

After 14 years the Mike Ashley era is over and there is a new dawn under the Public Investment Fund regime after the 305 million pound takeover was signed off.

While there have been a lot of column inches and airtime given over to the new owners, Newcastle fans are more concerned over the identity of who will be in the dugout as the new owners look for a fresh start.

It has been widely reported that their first order of business will be to sack current boss Steve Bruce, perhaps as soon as this weekend's game against Tottenham Hotspur.

New director Amanda Staveley has told the press that there have been no decisions made on the future of Bruce but the media have said that the 60-year-old is set to be handed his marching orders.

That would be cruel on Bruce - who is on 999 league matches as a manager - but he is acceptive of it.

"I want to continue, I'd like the chance to show the new owners what I can do, but you have to be realistic and they may well want a new manager to launch things for them," Bruce told the Telegraph. "New owners normally want a new manager. I've been around long enough to understand that.

"If I don't make it to a 1,000 games against Spurs, you might say that could only happen to me, but I don't think it would be cruel. It's just football."

Bruce will remain a fan of his boyhood club, and hopes for success with or without him. 

"I really hope this is the start of an exciting new era," the 60-year-old said. "It certainly sounds exciting when you read about how much money Saudi Arabians have.

"The takeover is a chance for this club to be what every supporter has wanted it to be for so long. If this is the real deal, I'll be happy for the fans because, at the end of the day, that is what I am.

"Long before I played football, long before I became a manager, I was a Newcastle United fan. I'd love to see this club win something, to play in Europe and from everything I've heard about these new owners, that is what they want too and they have the money to make it happen."

They certainly do. The new ownership's backing has seen Newcastle reported as the world's richest football club and they could attract some of  the biggest names in world football to the North East.

With the transfer window still some months away, the first big name might be in the dugout - so who might take over from Bruce?

Newcastle United fans celebrate the sale of the club on October 7. Photo: VCG

Newcastle United fans celebrate the sale of the club on October 7. Photo: VCG

In the short-term reports suggest that it will be Bruce's No.2 Grame Jones who will take over for the visit of Spurs and the next few weeks as the club look for a long-term replacement.

The bookmakers and British media have suggested Lucien Favre as the favorite to be handed the reins at St James Park - though there are questions as to whether the new owners will want someone without any English Premier League experience. 

Newcastle are 19th on the table at the moment and with the January transfer window - and the fans dreams of star signings - several matches away, there is a need to stabilize.

The lack of English experience would rule out Favre, despite the former Borussia Dortmund boss being out of work since being let go by the German Bundesliga side last year.

Former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte won the English Premier League when he was in charge of the Blues and he is out of work after walking away from Inter Milan following winning Serie A last season. The potential question mark over Conte is whether he would want to take over at Newcastle United, given it could be seen as a step down and it will take several seasons to get them towards the elite.

Conte has not spent more than two seasons at a club and there is little to suggest Newcastle can turn their fortunes around that quickly - even with the fortunes of their new owners to call on.

Belgium boss Roberto Martinez is another name in the frame and he has English Premier League experience, most notably with Everton. 

The Spaniard has just overseen his Belgium side to a fourth-place finish in the UEFA Nations League, following semifinals at the last World Cup and European Championships. The time might be right for him to walk away from The Red Devils and return to club management.

Former Liverpool midfielder and current Glasgow Rangers boss Steven Gerrard has no experience managing in the English Premier League but that will surely be just a matter of time.

The young manager won the title in Scotland last season, ending the long dominance of city rivals Celtic, and could be ready for a return south of the border. Gerrard would be a risk but it would also be a sign of ambition from the new owners.

Former Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe is a less ambitious signing but it would be shrewd in the sense that the Englishman has plenty of experience in the Premier League and the Championship - should, heaven forbid, Newcastle's season end in relegation. More importantly, he is available.

There are other names being mentioned, of course. These range from the romantic - a return of former fan favourites such as Kevin Keegan, Alan Shearer or Rafa Benitez - to the biggest names in the game - Jose Mourinho or Zinedine Zidane. 

Whatever the fans want, they might have to settle for a slow and steady rise back to the top but after 14 years of the Ashley regime they are used to waiting.

In the meantime, with the excitement of the new dawn and a sold-out St James Park set for the visit of Spurs, why not let Bruce clock up that 1,000th game before he goes.
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