Newcastle briefing: West Ham eye Rafa Benitez, Bastian Schweinsteiger deal and Kevin Keegan's final days explained plus a Damien Duff disaster

Rafa Benitez.
Rafa Benitez.
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West Ham want Rafa Benitez again, supposedly, Kevin Keegan's final days at SJP explained and Alan Pardew says he was a success at United.

Here's your daily round-up of all things NUFC from around the football world today...

Rafa exit talk

West Ham came within two hours of appointing Rafa Benitez before he got his dream gig at Real Madrid. Well, according to the questionable musings of David Sullivan.

And it seems like should Slaven Bilic not survive his end of campaign appraisal, Benitez heads the queue of people in line to replace him, according to the Mirror.

With the obvious tensions of the January window still fresh, this one could well have legs yet.

Damien Duff, Jose Enrique & Michael Owen.

Damien Duff, Jose Enrique & Michael Owen.

Alan Pardew's stand up act

Speaking to the Times former Newcastle boss Alan Pardew has opened up about his time at St James's Park.

As well as being revealing of the character of the man, his judgement and his morals he talks about how he was a success at United. Yes, he did say that (stop laughing at the back).

For a bit of light hearted fun, you'll find a transcript of said interview here.

Jonathan Woodgate

Jonathan Woodgate

“Kevin, we couldn’t stop laughing. If you had offered 50million euros we still wouldn’t have sold him – but 5m?!” - former coach lifts lid on the final days of King Kev's second coming

By now we all know the story.

James Milner was sold and he was set to be replaced by Bastian Schweinsteiger from Bayern Munich. But the deal didn't happen. Kevin Keegan was angry, then given two continental flops to replace the future England international and the rest, as they say, is history.

Terry McDermott was unfortunate to have front row seats to this farce back in 2008. And he's revealed all in this brilliant extract from his new book.

Down the Duff

The forgettable spell of Damien Duff on Tyneside has reared its ugly head this week, with the winger doing an interview with Four Four Two.

In the feature he discusses his time at United, why he signed, what he felt like when he left and how things never quite worked out for him after a hugely succesful spell at Chelsea with Jose Mourinho.

"I went to Newcastle and had a disaster," said Duff.

Well, to be fair, he's not far wrong there...

Defender enters the dugout

Former NUFC man Jonathan Woodgate has taken his first steps into the coaching game.

The ex-Magpies defender has rejoined Middlesbrough as first-team coach.

Woodgate becomes the latest addition to Steve Agnew’s coaching staff following the appointments of Joe Jordan and Paul Jenkins.

Kids beaten by Heed

A youthful Newcastle Under-23 side were beaten 1-0 by Gateshead yesterday in a behind closed doors friendly.

JJ O'Donnell got the only goal of the game for the Conference outfit.

Two unknown trialists played in the encounter.

NUFC XI: Ben Smith, Lewis Cass, Owen Bailey, Michael Newberry (Yannick Aziakonou 58), Adam Wilson, Jamie Holmes (Dan Lowther 58), Mace Goodridge, Dan Ward (Mo Sangare 58), Victor Fernandez (Trialist 58), Yasin Ben El-Mhanni (Oliver Long 58), Trialist.

Unusual visitor

Hisham Sorour.

Nah, doesn't mean anything to us either. But the name does to Rafa Benitez. So much so he invited the Egypt-born coach of United Arab Emirates giants Al-Ain to watch United train this week.

The man himself explained: "I've been following Rafa from Liverpool to Chelsea to Inter Milan to Real Madrid and then to Newcastle, and just to watch him at work was an honour. I watched 45 minutes on Monday and then saw the team train on Tuesday as well, and they were great sessions."

Defender refuses to accept his NUFC number may be up

Despite recovering from injury this year Massadio Haidara has not been close to a Championship first-team under Rafa Benitez.

But he's refusing to give up hope of a United return, insisting he is ready to jump into the side at a minute's notice.

And while he says reserve football is far from ideal, he's loving getting games under his belt for Peter Beardsley's side, with view to making an impression at senior level some time soon.

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