Since the Saudis and Staveley takeover materialised last week, Bruce’s dismissal as Toon boss became less of an if, and more of a when. Therefore, after it’s confirmation yesterday, fans had already been speculating his replacement weeks beforehand. It was always going to be tough, stepping into the beloved Rafa’s shoes up north, and I must say Bruce had done an admirable job in almost impossible circumstances.
However, with him gone, we must look towards one of the new owner’s most pivotal decisions. With a takeover reminiscent of a dream on Football Manager, the long term future of Newcastle is tantalising. Unfortunately, the short term isn’t quite as rosy, a team winless in 8, just a point from the bottom of the league. Add to this a toxic dressing room cultivated from years of Ashley deprivation, and it’ll be tough to start as you mean to go on.
Regardless, the managerial hunt is rumoured to have been narrowed to just three candidates, so today’s blog will run these three candidates and make a decision on who I think should take charge.
The only candidate on the shortlist with Premier League experience, Howe’s name has cropped up in any low-end top tier gig since his departure from his beloved Cherries. Arguably, more important is his second tier experience, should he have to follow in Rafa’s footsteps and lead a swift return to the promise lands.
His possession based style of play would be refreshing to a Toon faithful that’ve endured a more gritty way to win for the last couple of years, and his fierce loyalty to Bournemouth would bode well for the project ahead. However, that aforementioned style of play could be tough to implement given its stark contrasts to that of Bruce’s football, with Newcastle not in the sort of position to have a period of transition.
Also, if you look at Howe’s track record of spending the sort of money that’d be available to him, it doesn’t make for pretty reading. Don’t let the size of the Vitality deceive you, the Cherries supported Howe financially for a while in the Premier League, and while some are now impressing in the second tier, a vast majority of his expensive purchases are ultimately flops. With this in mind, do you really want him spearheading a rebuild with the copious amounts of money that’ll be available?
After being involved in Spurs’ lengthy managerial hunt, it came as no surprise his name cropped up as a touted replacement for Steve Bruce.
Long term, Fonseca’s impressive CV in Europe is a definite selling point to the Toon board. After defying the odds to guide Shakhtar into the knockouts of the Champions League, he took Roma to the semi finals of the Europa League in his first season in charge. Add to this his domestic double in each year at Shakhtar, and he’s building quite the managerial career.
Much like Howe, he’s renowned for an attractive style of football, being quoted as saying “The best way to defend is to have the ball”. With the Toon’s new lofty ambitions, such a style of play takes away the ceiling more direct football tends to give a side.
Unfortunately, in Newcastle’s desperate situation, it’s a huge risk to bring in a manager who’s never coached or played in English football. Despite successes in Europe, Fonseca ultimately underachieved in the league at Roma, finishing 5th & 7th, without the Champions League finishes the Giallorossi craves & deserves. With this in mind, he’s only had real success at Shakhtar, continuing the legendary Mircea Lucescu’s success at the Ukrainian club.
By far the most impressive CV of the three candidates, Favre is last on this list but certainly not least.
This CV includes multiple cases of elevating mid-table sides to the heights of European football, taking Borussia Monchengladbach from the bottom of the Bundesliga when he took charge to the Champions League. In addition to this, he ended Zurich’s 25 year wait for a Swiss title, eventually winning the title again in ’07 with a ludicrously young squad, averaging 21.5 years of age.
Therefore, Favre could be the man for Newcastle, having entered toxic dressing rooms before and prevailing in challenging circumstances. We have to remember this side must walk before it runs, and a man who’s worked with the likes of Xhaka, Ter-Stegen & Marco Reus could help develop superstars on Newcastle soil rather than buy it in.
As with all the candidates, it’s not all positive, as Favre & Toon star Saint-Maximin are known to have a soured relationship, dating back to their time in Nice. ASM is one of the few Newcastle stars who fits the owners lofty ambitions, so keeping him content must be a priority. Also, Favre sides tend to outperform their xG, something the Toon may find tough without a consistent goal scorer.
So, who should Newcastle’s next manager be?
If Saint-Maximin, as a cornerstone of this new era, is content with it, Favre must be the choice to replace Bruce. Neither of the other two candidates are well versed in resurrecting a hapless club, hence making Favre ideal for the short term and long term aspirations for the side.
Even though Favre isn’t renowned for sticking round long term, at worst he can be a bridge manager, making the project more attractive to the household names initially touted with the job. Therefore, out of three managers shortlisted for the job, let’s hope it’s Favre who gets St James’ Park rocking once again.