Mike Ashley will finally return from his business trip to the Pacific Rim today and will immediately get down to the business of accelerating the process of choosing the new Newcastle manager.
Mike Ashley – returns from the Pacific Rim today
Chris Mort was not at his desk at the Newcastle club today, as Kevin Keegan moved into position as the 6-4 bookies favorite for the job. It seems a lot of money was placed on Kevin yesterday, and Mark Hughes moved to second favorite at 5-2.
Kevin Keegan – now bookies favorite at 6-4
The Newcastle chairman has continued to hold discussions with individuals on the Newcastle shortlist, along with their representatives since Saturday, when Harry Redknapp turned down an offer from the club.
Mort will probably be in a position to give Mike Ashley a general update on the outcome of some of his discussions with the candidates. Mike and Chris will then decide the vital next step, who is their preferred candidate. They will then probably initiate contract talks with that candidate. We would expect tomorrow and Wednesday to be crucial days in their management selection process.
A source at the Newcastle club and close to the negotiations told the Times Online:
â€œThe process is still very much ongoing,â€
â€œThey are meeting people on the shortlist and only after meeting all of them will they be in a position to announce the new manager.â€
The list of candidates does not just include British managers, as first reported last week, although the ability to speak English is apparently a requirement. Newcastle have again leaked that Alan Shearer is not on the shortlist, as prior experience is the key criterion. It was thought last Thursday that Chris Mort contacted Shearer on his vacation in Barbados, and told Alan he would not be a candidate this time. Mort is said to have a good relationship with Shearer.
Mark Hughes – still in contention as bookies second favorite
Although ousted as the bookies favorite yesterday, Mark Hughes is still in contention for the position, but Newcastle have not yet approached Blackburn Rovers to speak to Mark.
John Williams, the Blackburn Rovers chairman, said yesterday:
â€œWe have not received any approach from Newcastle United for Mark Hughes,â€
â€œWe have had no contact from Newcastle whatsoever. He is doing a great job here and we obviously want to keep him.”
“We are chasing a Champions League place, so why would he want to leave?â€
If Newcastle United do finally ask permission to interview Mark Hughes, Blackburn are not likely to stand in his way. Mark is ambitious, and would find it difficult to turn down a move to Newcastle United. There is huge potential at the Tyneside club with the fans, the stadium, the training facilities, and the great ambition of the club, that has gone unfulfilled for close to 40 years.