Benitez – who had wanted a more competitive budget and more autonomy in the transfer market – turned down the offer of a one-year deal and his association with the club will formally end on June 30, when his contract expires.
Newcastle United next manager LIVE: FOUR candidates express interest in Magpies post
United’s hierarchy started the process of identifying a successor last night.
A club statement read: “We would also like to thank our supporters, players and staff for their patience during a period of uncertainty. The process to appoint a successor will now begin.”
Jose Mourinho, Benitez’s longtime managerial rival, is an early favourite with bookmakers, though it is unclear whether the 56-year-old, mentored by the late Sir Bobby Robson, would be interested in the job – or prepared to work within the tight financial constraints imposed by owner Mike Ashley.
Avram Grant, linked with the job, is not a contender, and there’s a recognition at the club that the next appointment must be credible in the eyes of a fanbase which has seen a Champions League-winning manager transform the team over the past three years.
That would appear to rule out David Moyes, who is 5/1 in the betting.
It would also be a surprise if the club moved for Garry Monk, who was sacked by Birmingham City earlier this month.
Anthony Hudson, sacked by Colorado Rapids in May and also linked with the United job, is not being considered for the post.
Patrick Viera, in charge of French club Nice, is also a name that has been mentioned along with Gattuso, who left AC Milan in May. Gattuso, 41, refused to accept a £4.8million contract payout and instead insisted that the money go to his backroom team.
Giovanni van Bronckhorst – who stepped down as Feyenoord manager this summer – has also been linked with the job.
Newcastle could also consider 69-year-old Arsene Wenger, who has been out of work since leaving Arsenal last year.