ALAN Pardew is expected to complete his shock move from Newcastle United to Crystal Palace shortly, leaving the Magpies looking for their first new manager in over four years.
Already, there has been a wave of speculation as to who could replace Pardew at St James’s Park.
Newcastle captain Fabricio Coloccini was the favourite with the bookmakers until widespread reports ruled him out of the running.
But who are the other leading contenders? Here, the Gazette looks at the other men high on the betting lists, and rates their chances of getting the job.
Steve Bruce: Best priced 6/4
Bruce, who grew up as a Newcastle fan, has emerged as the favourite for the job over recent hours.
The Hull City manager has endured a difficult season so far, with the Tigers – who he led to promotion and an FA Cup final in his first two years in charge – sitting just outside the Premier League’s relegation zone.
He has a decent track record in the Premier League from his time at Birmingham City, Wigan Athletic, Sunderland and Hull, but most of his time in the top flight as a manager has been spent battling relegation.
His time at Sunderland also ended amid fan protests, while he had an acrimonious relationship with Newcastle during his time at the Stadium of Light, so there may be many hurdles to overcome if Bruce is to take over on Tyneside.
Rumour rating: 3/5
Tim Sherwood: Best priced 3/1
Sherwood’s only senior managerial experience was his spell in charge at Tottenham Hotspur last season, which was rocky to say the least.
His results as Spurs boss were decent, but his methods were repeatedly questioned, while some of his public comments generated plenty of headlines.
Sherwood has a close relationship with former Newcastle striker Les Ferdinand, who was on his coaching staff at Tottenham, and that is a partnership which could be renewed when the ex-midfielder returns to management.
Whether Mike Ashley would be willing to take a gamble on a manager who remains largely unproven, though, remains to be seen.
Rumour rating: 2/5
Tony Pulis: Best priced 5/1
Pulis was the initial favourite to succeed Pardew, but it does appear unlikely he will end up at Newcastle.
Having done a superb job to lead Stoke City to promotion, keep them there consistently, reach the FA Cup final and impress in the Europa League, he was sacked in the summer of 2013, reportedly because of his style of play.
Last season, he kept Crystal Palace in the Premier League against all the odds, and his stock has rarely been higher.
He left Selhurst Park after reportedly falling out with the board over their transfer policy, though, which could rule out a move to Tyneside, as he is unlikely to get a lot of say in the incomings and outgoings at the club.
Also, Ashley sacked Sam Allardyce halfway through his first season at the club, with his direct style of play not working, and it appears unlikely he will turn to Pulis.
Rumour rating: 2/5
Ally McCoist: Best priced 9/1
McCoist is the outside bet of the names involved here, and did have a very short time working under Ashley at Rangers.
Overall, McCoist’s record at Rangers looks decent in terms of his win percentage, but when you consider he has spent most of his time at the club in the bottom three tiers of Scottish football, that is put into better context.
He left the second-tier club earlier this month, and has been described by many as unsuitable to management.
His name is appearing high in the betting lists, but it is highly unlikely McCoist will be the next man in at St James’s Park.
Rumour rating: 1/5
Steve McClaren: Best priced 12/1
McClaren has rebuilt his reputation since his turbulent time as England manager, and has done a fine job at his current club, Derby County.
He has worked in the region before, as Middlesbrough’s manager, and although he has a big challenge on his hands to get Derby promoted, Newcastle could tempt him back to the North East.
McClaren is a very respected and highly-rated coach, while he has built his knowledge and experience in recent years with spells in the Netherlands and Germany.
A move back to the Premier League, and into such a big job, could appeal to McClaren, and he is one to keep an eye on.
Rumour rating: 3/5