If Newcastle United survive relegation, should they make a bold managerial change?
A Newcastle United fan posted on our website yesterday that he believed a deal had already been done behind the scenes to sack Alan Pardew at the end of the season and bring in none other than Rafa Benitez.
It would come as a major surprise to all if this already being done were true, but what of the concept? Would it be a good step? Would it be possible?
Talk over Alan Pardew's future is currently rife. It was only earlier this season the manager was handed a staggering eight-year contract by Mike Ashley, after his superb achievements last season leading Newcastle to fifth.
The follow-up season has been dismal. Every time it appears ready to pick up and take off, there is a nightmare around the corner, the most recent being the 6-0 home hammering by a Luis Suarez-less Liverpool.
Pardew's tactical and selection decisions have been repeatedly called into question, with worry the situation is getting worse and not better with the Toon being dragged into an unlikely relegation battle.
What many Newcastle fans are talking about and even more are thinking, is that Pardew really may not be the man to take them forward, and that the eight-year deal could have been a grave error.
Now Mike Ashley has not been one who is afraid to make a bolshy decision in his time, and you would think, or hope for his sake financially at least that he has a 'get-out clause'.
If he does decide to make a humiliating U-turn, and sack the man he declared his absolute trust in earlier this season - when examining who he should choose as his replacement, Rafa Benitez is a fascinating name he should consider.
Benitez is a manager with serious Premier League experience, almost leading Liverpool to a league title in 2008/09, famously winning the Champions League with the Reds in 2005.
He is currently battling away with Chelsea on more than one front, in difficult circumstances because of fan pressure and the fact his contract was only short-term, but on the verge of leading the Blues to a Europa League Final, he is seemingly enhancing his reputation.
Benitez will be out of work in the summer, but you suspect not for long, there will be offers coming his way - and Newcastle would be wise to throw their hat in the ring, if they decide to get rid of Pardew and are able to do it with minimal fuss.
The Spaniard clearly likes working in the Premier League, and Newcastle's large fanbase and passionate support are clearly swaying factors which could tempt him to join. They are one of English football's big clubs, with which he enjoys little if any bitter past, nothing which would deter him from heading to Tyneside.
The challenge of restoring their reputation after a nightmare season would surely be a no-lose challenge for him, and for Newcastle it would help convince big players like Cabaye, Krul, Ben Arfa et al that the future at the club is ambitious.
Benitez's professional approach would likely fit will with Newcastle's scouting system, but whether he would tolerate Mike Ashley getting involved is another matter.
The idea may not please everybody, and is of course dependent on Newcastle staying up, because Benitez would not join them in the Championship, but any more performances like the weekend, and fans may rather have even Rafa Nadal in charge than Alan Pardew.
Newcastle fans what do you think of the idea?
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