Date: 26th June 2019 at 8:03pm
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Finding someone to take the place of Rafael is an almost impossible task for Newcastle United’s board – but a task they have set themselves all the same.

The Spaniard is destined for the exit door on Tyneside, an inability to meet his demands resulting in a breakdown of negotiations over a new contract, with the news hitting faithful like a sack of bricks.

Whoever does eventually take over in the dugout will be replacing a man adored by all corners of St James’ Park – a daunting task for even the most experienced and confident of managers.

As well as this, Mike Ashley’s dismal record for backing his bosses is going to mean there is plenty of trepidation from potential candidates – although it seems there could well be some names already in the running from Newcastle’s end.

The Telegraph report that Rangers’ Steven Gerrard, OGC Nice’s Patrick Vieira and Manchester City assistant coach Mikel Arteta are all at the top of the ever-expanding shortlist.

Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe is said to be someone also admired by but they lack the belief they will be able to tempt the Cherries’ boss from swapping the south coast for the north east.

The English manager is spoken very highly of by his managerial counterparts and those in the know, while the Daily Mail reported back in December that he was the frontrunner to take the place of Mauricio Pochettino at Tottenham – a signal of just how much of an impact he is making with his current club.

If Newcastle want to show ambition, they need to make a move for the individuals they think are going to make the difference – regardless of whether they say yes or no to their approaches.

Howe, with 152 games under his belt as a manager, is a very experienced coach for someone at 41-years-old, totalling 448 matches in the dugout across all four divisions of the English leagues.

To have established as a side – with a lowest finish of 16th in their first top flight season and a highest of 9th – is quite a remarkable feat and he is the sort of exciting, forward-thinking manager who could stamp his mark on St James’ Park.

Newcastle might not have the belief they can get Howe on board but they have got to make an effort – otherwise their behind-the-scenes ambitions mean absolutely nothing.