After years of misery under Mike Ashley, Newcastle United are on the verge of a new dawn. The Magpies are the subject of a takeover bid by a consortium backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), which is headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
A £300 million agreement is believed to be in place between Ashley and PCP Capital Partners – the consortium backed by Saudi Arabia in partnership with Amanda Staveley and the Reuben brothers. The formalities are expected to be completed in the coming weeks, as St. James’ Park prepares to usher in a new era.
It is no secret that massive takeovers like this often end up changing the fortunes of clubs. Roman Abramovich’s investment in Chelsea led the team to great heights while Manchester City have been reaping rewards of Sheikh Mansour’s backing, establishing themselves as a dominant force in England.
Given how neither of them comes anywhere near the major stakeholder in Newcastle’s potential takeover, the Tyneside outfit could be set for a massive revolution in the coming years. No disrespect intended towards Steve Bruce but in order to lead them into this period, the club will obviously look for a proven, big-name manager.
And here we take a look at five candidates that Newcastle’s new owners might look to hand over the reins in the coming months.
The most obvious choice, given how he turned Tottenham into a title-challenging outfit during his time at North London. Pochettino is currently unattached, after having been sacked in November last year.
The Argentine may not have won any major trophies during his managerial career, but has done great things at each of his previous clubs, be it Espanyol, Southampton or Tottenham.
During his five-year stint with the North London outfit, Poch took them to great heights, turning them from also-rans into title-contenders and Champions League regulars. And he did so playing attractive football while infusing young talent within the squad. These qualities make him a top contender for the Newcastle hotseat.
There’s a lot of history here, as Rafa took over the reins at Newcastle during a difficult phase. The Spaniard helped Newcastle United earn promotion back to the Premier League from the Championship and on a meagre transfer budget, helped them maintain their top-tier status in back-to-back seasons.
Benitez left the club last year, after falling out with Ashley due to the lack of transfer funds being made available. But that shouldn’t be a problem once the takeover is complete. The former Liverpool and Chelsea manager is a loved figure at St. James’ Park for the work he did during his time and his CV speaks for itself.
Champions League, Europa League, La Liga, FIFA Club World Cup; Benitez has won the lot during his long managerial career. A chance to return to Newcastle and finish what he had started would definitely appeal to the 60-year-old, who is currently in charge at Chinese Super League outfit Dalian Pro.
The man who was entrusted with the Manchester City project after the takeover, Mancini knows what it takes to succeed in these situations. The 55-year-old brought the Cityzens their first-ever Premier League title and could be the right man to lead Newcastle United into a new era as well.
The 55-year-old has worked with some of the biggest names in the world of football, from the likes of Javier Zanetti and Esteban Cambiasso to David Silva and Yaya Toure, and has been able to get the best out of them. Mancini has been in management for almost 20 years now and has had a decorated career, testing success with the likes of Lazio, Inter Milan, Manchester City and Galatasaray.
Currently in charge of the Italian national team, Mancini’s contract with the Azzurri is set to expire in the summer, meaning he should be available to take over at St. James’ Park from next season.
If Newcastle United are able to convince the 52-year-old to join their project, it would be a massive coup. Known for his tactical nous and intelligence, Massimiliano Allegri is one of the most successful managers of the last decade and has managed giants like AC Milan and Juventus in the past.
Allegri won a Serie A title and a Supercoppa Italiana during his stint with AC Milan before enjoying unrivalled success at Juventus. Between 2014 and 2019, the Italian tactician won the Scudetto five years in a row with the Bianconeri, along with four Coppa Italia trophies and three Super Cups. He also led them to a Champions League final.
Allegri has been without a job since leaving Juventus last year. Given his proven pedigree and experienced hands used to dealing with star players, he could be the perfect candidate to usher in a new era at St. James’ Park.
An unlikely possibility, given that the Portuguese took over at Tottenham only in November last year and has a lengthy contract, but stranger things have happened in the world of football. It was Mourinho, backed by Abramovich’s investment, that turned Chelsea into a superpower and despite his career following a downward graph of late, he has the capability to turn it around at Newcastle.
With Mourinho, success is, more or less, guaranteed. Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan, Real Madrid, Manchester United; the Portuguese has brought success wherever he has managed.
Mourinho himself has made his admiration for Newcastle known in the past. Moreover, he will have the backing of the owners to splurge the cash during the transfer window should the takeover go through – something that he does not have the liberty to do at Tottenham currently. A distant possibility, but as mentioned previously, stranger things have happened.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Daniel Leal Olivas