Newcastle have identified three targets.
Steven Gerrard is on the shortlist to replace Rafa Benitez as the manager of Newcastle United, according to reports. Benitez will leave St James’ Park on June 30 when his contract expires after failing to agree on a new deal with the Magpies.
Rangers manager Gerrard, who played under Benitez for five years at Liverpool, is one of three coaches linked with succeeding the Spaniard.
According to The Telegraph, Newcastle are also considering approaching Patrick Vieira, the Nice manager and former Arsenal captain. Mikel Arteta, the former Everton and Arsenal midfielder currently working as assistant manager to Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, is also said to be in contention for the position.
Whether any of the three will be interested in taking over at Newcastle remains to be seen as the club is in a state of flux. A couple of weeks ago, it looked as though owner Mike Ashley – an unpopular figure with Toon fans – was finally about to sell the club. If the takeover by Sheikh Khaled Bin Zayden had have been completed, Benitez would be given the funds needed to compete for a place in the top-six of the Premier League.
However, there has been no progress on the takeover bid in recent weeks and now the Magpies have lost one of the best coaches in the English top flight. They will arguably never have a better or more popular manager.
Gerrard distanced himself from speculation linking him with becoming Derby County manager and replacing Frank Lampard, who is set to become the new Chelsea boss. But the lure of a Premier League position may turn his head – even if Newcastle are currently in a tough spot.
The former England captain had a mixed campaign as Rangers coach last season. Gerrard’s team finished nine points behind Celtic and managed to record two victories over their Glasgow rivals. They also reached the group stages of the Europa League.
However, despite sanctioning 20 signings, they failed to make a dent in the domestic cup competitions and were still a distant second to Celtic.
Yet, Gerrard should probably at least consider the offer if Newcastle come knocking. Given that they are in such a dysfunctional state, he would have something of a free hit. If it went wrong at St James’ Park, few would blame him.
But, if Ashley sells the club, Gerrard would have greater resources to work with and a better chance at success. The former Liverpool captain is also a high-profile figure capable of uniting a fanbase at their wits’ end after Benitez’s departure.
It could also be argued that, regardless of what Gerrard achieves with Rangers, it won’t be enough to land his dream job as Liverpool manager when Jurgen Klopp eventually decides to leave. The jump from the Scottish Premiership to Anfield is now too great, but Newcastle to Liverpool seems a more realistic progression.
Whether he is the right man for Newcastle is debatable, and the club already had their ideal manager only to let him leave anyway. But, from Gerrard’s perspective, it could be a great opportunity worth considering.