Newcastle close to Rafa Benitez deal as Steve McClaren waits to learn fate

Rafael Benitez
Rafael Benitez
  • United hope to conclude talks with Benitez
  • McClaren still waiting to learn fate
  • Club reluctant to swing axe until deal finalised
  • Players on a day off at crisis-hit Newcastle

Crisis-hit Newcastle United hope to bring an end to a week-long saga today and conclude talks with Rafa Benitez.

Head coach Steve McClaren has remained in his post at St James’s Park during negotiations with Benitez.

And the relegation-threatened club’s treatment of McClaren has drawn criticism from fans.

The 54-year-old has had to prepare the team for Monday night’s game at Leicester City knowing there is little chance of him being in the dugout at the King Power Stadium.

However, McClaren – whose players are scheduled to have the day off – could well learn his fate from managing director Lee Charnley today.

Newcastle have been unwilling to dismiss McClaren before an agreement is in place with Benitez, who, according to reports in Spain, has been offered a three-year deal.

Steve McClaren

Steve McClaren

But it seems inconceivable that McClaren could take charge of the team against Leicester should talks break down at the 11th hour.

If that happens – or if the Benitez deal can’t be concluded in time – then it is likely that Ian Cathro and Peter Beardsley will be asked to take charge of the team for the match against the Premier League leaders.

The club are yet to rearrange their pre-match press conference for the Leicester game, given the managerial uncertainty.

Meanwhile, Benitez, sacked as Real Madrid manager in January, would be named the Magpies’ new manager and not head coach.

Benitez has been seeking reassurances over recruitment and United’s ambitions.

And the change in job title would be significant given the well-documented problems with the club’s structure.

McClaren and his predecessors have had little control over transfers, which have been overseen by chief scout Graham Carr.