The Athletic’s George Caulkin has been answering questions from Newcastle United fans this week, with several supporters asking for updates on the managerial situation at St James’ Park.
Starting with Antonio Conte, Caulkin insists it’s “not going to happen” – or at least “not yet” – even if he has been recommended to the consortium by several people.
He claims the club will be looking for a ‘builder’ who can get stuck into a long-term project, which brings us to Rafa Benitez, however it’s said Staveley and Co have ‘reluctantly accepted’ that he won’t be breaking his contract at Everton.
Eddie Howe is then mentioned as someone whose been discussed by board members, but it seems he hasn’t been shortlisted – likely due to the fact he took Bournemouth down during his last stint in the Premier League.
Another name that’s been regularly linked since last Thursday’s takeover is former RB Leipzig supremo Ralf Rangnick.
Many believe he would be a top class appointment as the new owners search for a director of football, however Caulkin says a source has recently told him there’s “no chance” of him arriving, as things stand.
Here’s what he’s had to say on all of the above:
Caulkin on Antonio Conte:
‘I know that Conte has been recommended to them by various people and it seems obvious, doesn’t it – richest club in the world, get the most high-profile coach. It’s not going to happen. Not yet! It’s not what Newcastle need, even if it would be great fun. (In my opinion), Conte takes you from third to first in the league. He doesn’t take you from 19th to 10th or 10th to sixth, which will be the first part of the club’s journey, all being well. They need a really good manager and they need a builder.‘
Caulkin on Rafa Benitez:
‘A good manager and a builder? That naturally brings us to Rafa. The Spaniard is exactly what they need. He knows the club, he is loved by fans, he knows most of the players and has kept in touch with some of them. Building is what he does. He was a fundamental strand of Staveley’s first bids to buy Newcastle and they’ve looked at him repeatedly since, hoping that his availability would align with their eventual purchase.
‘Owen Brown, Staveley’s football lieutenant, is a close associate and friend of Benitez and at various moments it looked as though it might work. They have accepted – reluctantly – that it won’t. Benitez is honourable and has a simple rule: he doesn’t break contracts. Things can always change, I guess, but that’s where things stand.‘
Caulkin on Eddie Howe:
‘I know that members of the board have discussed Howe amongst themselves, but I don’t think he’s on the list I mentioned. Howe makes sense in some ways – he built Bournemouth, took them into the Premier League and did a brilliant job. Newcastle is very different to Bournemouth, though; bigger, louder, far more intense and demanding of managers. Bournemouth were also relegated under him. Look at where Newcastle are in the table.‘
Caulkin on Ralf Rangnick:
‘For a variety of complicated reasons, I was told there’s “no chance” of Rangnick coming to Newcastle, but I’m not setting that in stone either yet.
‘I just don’t think the club are at the decision-making stage and won’t be for a while.‘
Interestingly, George talks about Lucien Favre as a name who has been spoken about, stating the consortium have ‘sought outside opinion’ on the Swiss manager, however he questions whether a previous bust-up with Allan Saint-Maximin may impact his chances of landing the job.