NEWCASTLE United are confident the man they have lined up to replace Chris Hughton will end any simmering discontent surrounding his departure as manager.
The Journal understands talks between the club and their first-choice target began in the early hours of yesterday morning and continued throughout the day. Those talks have progressed well and the new manager’s appointment could be confirmed as early as tomorrow with an official unveiling at St James’ on Friday.
The successful candidate will be offered a long-term, five-and-a-half-year contract as the club looks to ensure there is finally some continuity in the manager’s office following almost constant upheaval since Mike Ashley took control just over three years ago.
Although there will not be a lot of money to spend, there could be some cash to play with in January and it is interesting to note the Magpies have been offered the chance to sign LA Galaxy’s American international Landon Donovan on a six-month loan.
In terms of replacing Hughton, everything is going according to plan as far as Ashley and managing director Derek Llambias are concerned, although supporters will reserve judgement until the identity of the new manager is known.
Martin Jol’s sudden resignation as manager of Ajax on Monday night installed him as favourite. However, sources have claimed the United hierarchy were as surprised as anyone else by that news.
The Dutchman enjoyed a successful stint in charge of Tottenham in the Premier League but The Journal has been told he is not first choice and it seems increasingly likely he will not be named as Hughton’s successor.
As usual, it is a case of smoke and mirrors during the search for a new manager, and sources in Holland are still pushing Jol’s name forward as a viable candidate.
There has been a lot of public support for Martin O’Neill, whose track record in both England and Scotland is superb. He has the experience and kudos required to appease disgruntled supporters, but there has been no suggestion he is interested in the United job.
Alan Pardew, another of the early favourites, is now known to be in Germany on a coaching course, suggesting he is not the leading candidate, while Alan Curbishley is a friend of Llambias and the two have stayed in touch.
In any case, whether the prospect of Pardew – sacked by Southampton in August despite a relatively successful spell on the south coast after a troubled time at Charlton Athletic – as the club’s new manager would satisfy fans is debatable.
Pardew has only managed two years as a manager in the top flight. He did take West Ham United to the FA Cup Final in 2006, where they lost on penalties to Liverpool, but he was sacked just six months later after a poor start to the season at Upton Park.
Curbishley, interviewed by the Football Association for the England job when Sven-Göran Eriksson resigned in 2006, would be a more popular choice.
He did an excellent job over 15 years at Charlton Athletic, and he is available for work again after settling a financial dispute with West Ham.
Nevertheless, sources close to Curbishley have reportedly said he is “highly unlikely” to be Newcastle’s next manager.