Speculation is rife about a potential Premier League return for former Liverpool and Chelsea boss Rafa Benitez, with Manchester City and West Ham both thought to be keen on the Spaniard.
The Citizens are widely expected to fire Manuel Pellegrini at the first sign of an unsuccessful season, while the future doesn’t look bright for much-maligned Hammers chief Sam Allardyce with his contract due to expire upon the conclusion of this campaign and talk of an extension is currently non-existent.
No English outfit can be backed shorter than the east Londoners to be Benitez’s next employers, with the claret-clad club weighing in at 3/1 ahead of City’s 4/1.
The latter price can be discounted, with the reigning Premier League champions believed to be interested on the Champions League-winning boss on an interim basis for a year, enabling them to pursue Pep Guardiola when he departs FC Bayern Munchen at the end of the 2015/16 season.
Such an offer is unlikely to appeal to Benitez, who has already dabbled in the dark arts of keeping the seat warm for a preferred target at Chelsea in 2012/13.
Something more permanent is sure to be of greater appeal, but are West Ham of sufficient stature to lure such a decorated coach?
Widespread reports indicate the Irons will pursue Benitez if they can’t tempt David Moyes back to England, suggesting even they don’t regard the Napoli supremo as an entirely attainable target.
The prospects of scooping silverware in the short-term at West Ham are dim, but with their sizeable fan base and imminent move to the Olympic Stadium, there’s certainly a case to make regarding the club’s appeal.
This is also true of Newcastle, who share the mantle of favourite English club to employ Benitez next.
The Magpies will be in need of a new boss in the summer when John Carver is removed from his temporary seat at the helm.
If rumours are to be believed, whoever takes over will be promised a sizeable transfer war chest as Mike Ashley strives for value-for-money buys before clubs’ coffers are exorbitantly inflated by the £5 billion TV deal that’s due to come into force in 2016.
The opportunity to spend big is sure to up the attractiveness of the Toon, who, like West Ham, have the infrastructure to swell in stature from middle-table also-rans to continental competitors.
Benitez turned down Aston Villa prior to Paul Lambert’s appointment in 2012 owing to their lack of a decent transfer budget, though his interest in the role confirms his willingness to step into the lower reaches of the Premier League if the opportunity to grow a club exists.
This is what makes 3/1 Newcastle the best bet of the English bunch to be managed by the Spanish tactician.