The future’s far from black-and-white in the north east this summer.
With Rafa Benitez gone, it could well be a bleak season ahead for Newcastle’s fans with a motley crew of would-be managers linked with the club’s hot seat.
Everyone from Gennaro Gattuso through to Sean Dyche have been quoted by the bookies so far, but perhaps the juiciest name on the list is the Special One himself, Jose Mourinho.
Mourinho would be great at Newcastle, wouldn’t he?
Not that I’m too confident he’ll end up there, of course, but just imagine the admiration he’d enjoy and the entertainment he’d provide.
Newcastle remains one of the sleeping giants of English football, held back by Mike Ashley’s malevolent reign.
But the fans are just as passionate as ever and Rafa revelled in the love of the supporters, even sticking around at the club when they were relegated in 2016 and getting them straight back up into the Premier League by winning the Championship the year after.
Then, by some kind of miracle, he guided the Magpies to a 10th-placed finish in their first season back in the big time. He even made a profit in that summer’s transfer window.
Heroic stuff indeed.
But even looking beyond the Spaniard’s excellent results, Rafa was able to generate hope among the fanbase and give them something to be proud of.
With Benitez at the helm, you got the sense that Newcastle were building something – even if they were lacking financial backing from their owner.
This is perhaps something that wouldn’t work with Jose. You get the sense that wherever Jose next ends up, he’d want money to spend and would probably look to use a large chunk of it on the team’s first-team squad. It’s not a criticism, it’s just the way he is.
Of course there are rumours that Newcastle are in the process of being bought by the mega-rich Bin Zayed Group, although in the six weeks since their interest became public there has been no new news.
But if you’re willing to believe tabloid gossip, then Mourinho is said to be the No.1 choice for billionaire Sheikh Khaled bin Zayed Al Nehayan.
We hear he’s a big fan.
Whether or not there’s money to spend at the club, Mourinho would certainly find a way to enjoy success at Newcastle – but it would require some of the old magic that we haven’t seen since his days at Porto.
He’s still undoubtedly a great manager – perhaps even still one of the best in the world – but his brilliance has been somewhat ebbed away by his final year with Chelsea and his spell with Man United.
A mixture of poor spending, dull and outdated tactics, and a run of poor results lead to his dismissal at Old Trafford.
Ideally, he’d have to change his ways a little bit, and go back to the kind of manager who could get incredible results out of average players.
Surprisingly, there is a link between Mourinho and Newcastle, and it goes beyond careless Sky Bet specials.
Many years ago, Mourinho started his managerial career as assistant to the great Bobby Robson at Barcelona and has often referred to Newcastle – where Robson ended his coaching career – as ‘Bobby’s club’.
Robson is someone Mourinho greatly respected and admired, so moving to Tyneside would perhaps stimulate his sentimental side.
In the end, who can really say where Mourinho will end up next, or which manager Newcastle will opt for?
If cynicism has taught me anything, it’s to expect the Mark Hughes’ and David Moyes’ of the world to continue thriving in the Premier League’s managerial merry-go-round.
But we can always hope for something a little bit different, daring and exciting to happen.
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