On Wednesday, 20th of October, the inevitable finally happened: Newcastle United’s new owners have sacked manager Steve Bruce, just 13 days after the £305m takeover. The Saudi-backed consortium now at the helm of the club are valued at a whopping £315bn, and have promised that the appointment of a new manager “will be announced in due course”. So who is the right man to take the Magpies forward in this new era for the team? The Newcastle job was considered a poisoned chalice when Bruce took over in 2019, but with the embarrassment of riches now available, any manager in world football would jump at the opportunity to take the now-vacant role, right?
In reality, it isn’t quite so straightforward. Newcastle sit 19th, still without a competitive win this season. A new manager would have to turn this form around with what is, at best, a mediocre squad which they cannot improve until January. Despite having lofty ambitions, the club can’t currently offer the allure of European football or competing for major titles, with the current objective once again simply Premier League survival. This will likely rule out big names such as Zinedine Zidane and Antonio Conte, who are linked with the job but have seen their odds lengthen significantly. The new man needs to be someone willing to dig in and lay the foundations, with an eye on challenging nearer the top of the Premier League a few years down the line.
A long list of names have been mentioned in connection with the managerial position, and Newcastle’s hierarchy needs to decide what quality they want most in their frontman. The fans are desperate to see an exciting, attacking style of football return to St. James’ Park, and one man who can certainly deliver that is current favourite Paolo Fonseca. Linked with Tottenham in the summer, Fonseca is currently out of work having left AS Roma in May and is said to be keen to manage in the Premier League. His last two seasons at the Stadio Olimpico saw the I Giallorossi finish 5th and 7th in Serie A, following on from his three consecutive domestic doubles in the Ukraine with Shakhtar Donetsk. In an interview with the Telegraph, Fonseca said that his teams have “an obligation with supporters to create a spectacle, a good show.” This will be music to the ears of the Newcastle faithful, who were not shy in vocalising their distaste for Steve Bruce’s conservative style.
The four horsemen of young English managers are also being considered for the role: Steven Gerard, Frank Lampard, Wayne Rooney and Eddie Howe. Newcastle are looking for longevity in this appointment, and these four can give them that. Howe spent eight years at his previous club Bournemouth, where his attacking brand of football saw him linked with the England job. The other three are comparatively inexperienced and unproven, but this doesn’t have to be a bad thing, as Newcastle can build around them and let the club and the manager develop simultaneously.
The man that stands out from the long list of potential suitors, however, has to be Lucien Favre. Favre, 63, might not be well known to Premier League fans, but cast an eye over his record and you’ll notice he’s been successful at every club he’s managed. What differentiates Favre from other managers linked with the position is that he has experience in rescuing clubs from the clutches of relegation. In 2011 he took over Borussia Mönchengladbach, who were sitting dead last in the Bundesliga with only 12 matches to go, and miraculously managed to save them from the drop, and by 2015 Die Fohlen were playing Champions League football against the likes of Juventus and Manchester City. Don’t however take this to mean that Favre is a pragmatic manager. He is known for a dynamic and positive playing style, which the fans on Tyneside will undoubtedly get behind. Most recently, Favre spent two years at Borussia Dortmund, where he was crucial in the development of talents such as Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland, and left the club with an impressive 63 per cent win percentage.
Favre strikes the perfect balance between a top-level manager and someone able, as well as willing, to rescue a club currently in a relegation scrap and guide them far beyond mid-table mediocrity.
Image courtesy of Martin Le Roy via WikiMedia Commons