Newcastle United head coach Steve McClaren was back at work on Tuesday but his future at the club remains in doubt.
McClaren arrived at the club’s Darsley Park training headquarters early, ready to put his players through their paces as usual at 10.30am.
Newcastle, who lie just one place off the foot of the Premier League table with 10 games of their season remaining, are in danger of slipping out of the top flight for the second time in seven years. They have won only once in their last six league games and were humbled 3-1 by Bournemouth at St James’ Park on Saturday, when the crowd turned on McClaren for the first time.
The club’s board, with the conspicuous absence of the head coach, met away from Tyneside on Monday with managing director Lee Charnley, chief scout Graham Carr and club ambassador Bob Moncur discussing possible ways forward.
However, as of last night Newcastle had made no communication with Rafael Benitez’s representatives about the possibility of him becoming their next manager. The chances of the former Liverpool and Real Madrid manager succeeding Steve McClaren cannot be ruled out, yet it is a remote one. Wages could be an issue, with Newcastle notoriously tight-spenders. The North East club would certainly need to make a very convincing case to Benitez, who parted company with the Spanish side in January, considering the serious risk of relegation which comes attached to such a job.
Newcastle’s board has to decide whether to take a gamble on leaving McClaren in charge or replacing him with time running out in a season which will determine whether they receive a full share of the new £5.14billion broadcast deal next season.
David Moyes, Benitez and Nigel Pearson could head the list of potential candidates if they opt to sack McClaren.
McClaren’s position is complicated by the fact that he was the choice of Charnley, rather than owner Mike Ashley, and dismissing him now could be viewed as an admission of failure on his part, while an £82m recruitment programme overseen by Carr, much of which was in place before the former England manager was appointed, has still left huge gaps in the squad.