Date:Friday February 3 2006
The bookmakers were quick to act in light of Souness' departure and, as usual, the list of potential successors was peppered with some of the biggest names in the game. Sven-Göran Eriksson, Sam Allardyce, Guus Hiddink, Martin O'Neill, Paul Jewell and Louis van Gaal, but certain individuals will want to wait to see who gets the England job.
I'm sure Freddy Shepherd would love the FA to name the man, but don't believe for a second they will put the wishes of Fat Fred ahead of their World Cup plans.
Allardyce, Steve Bruce and David O'Leary have all resisted Freddy's advances in the past, but Bobby Robson turned them down THREE times before he finally took the job.
When an appointment will be made remains to be seen but it appears nothing is imminent. Glenn Roeder and Alan Shearer have taken charge for the 'immediate future' and a specific time frame of 12 weeks maximum has been put on the length of their service. The FA insist they can only rule the roost for three months because they don't have the official badges.
So let's look at those in the frame.
Availability: Currently taking a break from football to care for his wife Geraldine, who is ill.
Credentials: Won three league championships in Scotland although that was not enough to impress the Newcastle fans in Souness' case. Took Celtic to the UEFA Cup final where they were beaten by Jose Mourinho's Porto and also won the League Cup in England with Leicester. Enjoys a reputation as a master of motivation if not tactics.
Verdict: Would probably win a match-day ballot at St James' Park.
Availability: Is free to seek employment after the World Cup after his latest tabloid debacle.
Credentials: Winner of league titles in Italy with Lazio, Portugal with Benfica and Sweden with IFK Gothenburg. Also successful in Europe with Lazio. Provided the perfect antidote to Kevin Keegan's bluster in the England job and his Scandinavian manners could pour oil on troubled waters in the north east.
Verdict: A big name but I'm not convinced his appointment would impress too many Geordies. The man never shows passion, and looks uninterested at times. Not something that would go down well on Tyneside.
Availability: Gainfully employed on a long-term contract by Bolton who will be determined to hold on to him.
Credentials: Took Bolton into Europe for the first time in their history this season. Yet to win a major trophy but, by taking on out of favour international stars, he has comfortably established the club in the Premiership after years of yo-yoing between divisions.
Verdict: Said to have turned down the job last time but his so-called 'ugly football' might not find favour at St James' Park.
Availability: Just a change of job title needed.
Credentials: Still playing and has never managed a club before but his status among Newcastle fans would buy him a substantial comfort zone in which he could learn on the job. His conduct in backing the almost-immediately unpopular Souness suggests he has the right temperament.
Verdict: Would be popular with the fans but represents a substantial risk for a club which must break the habit of sacking managers to be successful. And he has made it plain that he will NOT be the next Newcastle manager.
Availability: Manager of PSV Eindhoven and Australia. The Australians have already offered him a substantial new contract while the Dutch remain more sanguine. Also hotly tipped to be the next England boss.
Credentials: European Cup winner with PSV Eindhoven and winner of multiple Dutch titles. Took Holland to the semi-finals of France 98 and repeated the trick four years later with Korea. Speaks good English and is an avowed admirer of the English game but will the Football Association beat Freddy Shepherd to the punch?
Verdict: A good fit and enjoys an international reputation which will flatter Newcastle's opinion of their own standing in the game.
THE BOOKIES ODDS:
Sam Allardyce is the favourite with most bookies to become the next permanent Newcastle United manager. The current Bolton boss heads the betting at a best price 9-2 with William Hill.
Martin O'Neill has been backed in from 7-1 to 5-1 best price with Bet365, although Paddy Power are taking no chances on the Irishman with their paltry 7-4 offering.
Caretaker boss Glenn Roeder is rated as an outsider at this stage with Ladbrokes pricing him up as a 16-1 shot, while Alan Shearer supporters can get on at 7-1 with Bet365. Sven-Göran Eriksson is an 8-1 shot with Blue Square and Steve Bruce is available at a top-price 14-1 with Skybet.
Local bookies Pagebet have reported strong support for United's ex-boss Kevin Keegan and have responded by cutting his price from 20-1 to 10-1. The biggest moving price on the opening day of betting also involved Keegan - William Hill opened with a massive 100-1 quote before reducing these odds to just 10-1 on him returning to the Magpies' helm.
There are, of course, a number of novelty names to the running. Just like the time when Sir Bobby Robson was sacked (Graeme Souness being one of them!). Peter Reid is up for grabs at 100-1 with Bet365, Paul Gascoigne is 500-1 with Paddy Power, Ant and Dec are 1000-1 shots with William Hill and the longest price on offer goes to the Geordie Dancer, available at 2000-1 with Skybet!
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