To say that it has been a difficult 24 hours for Newcastle United fans would be a massive understatement.
The statement confirming Rafael Benitez’s exit might not have come as a shock to some, every day that passed towards the end of June further eradicating any hope the supporters had of keeping the Spaniard on board, but it is still an incredibly tough pill to swallow.
Benitez was not just a manager at St James’ Park. He was a beacon of hope, ambition and progress after years of standing still under the unambitious and uninspiring Mike Ashley.
That beacon was ultimately extinguished by the owner and the rest of the decision makers on Tyneside, leaving the Toon Army with little belief that their sleeping giant of a club will be awoken from its slumber any time soon.
So who next to take on what appears to be the poison chalice of the Newcastle United job? After all, the supporters are hardly going to be giving much of a warm welcome to the man taking the place of a Magpies favourite.
Well, there might be a glimmer of hope for the Toon Army, with the agents of six big names of the footballing and management world said to have put forward their clients for consideration.
The Chronicle claim that Laurent Blanc, Gennaro Gattuso, David Moyes, Patrick Vieira, Claudio Ranieri and Giovanni van Bronckhorst have all been recommended by representatives to the Magpies and considering their reputations and pedigree, it demonstrates what a big job the Newcastle role is viewed as.
Other than Moyes and Ranieri, both of which have mixed records during their time in the Premier League, the names reported are all unproven in England’s top flight but their records at their respective jobs prove they are not simply big names without the ability to back them up.
Van Bronckhorst won three major trophies with Feyenoord, Vieira led Manchester City’s under-23s to the Premier League International Cup and improved OGC Nice’s league position and Blanc’s record in France – with five league titles and a handful of cups – speaks for itself, leaving Gattuso as the only real wildcard.
Newcastle fans need some sort of hope and belief to cling onto now and to see such high profile names linked with the job should give them a glimmer of that – even if they are still mourning Benitez’s departure.
The Newcastle job is a big opportunity and as such big names are seemingly in the running – maybe, just maybe, they could make the sort of ambitious appointment they did three years ago in Benitez.