Newcastle eye up candidates
Newcastle plan to speak to a series of potential candidates for the vacant post of head coach once again as they attempt to move on swiftly from near-disaster.
Managing director Lee Charnley, as he did following Alan Pardew's departure for Crystal Palace in January, intends to hold informal talks with several men in order to gauge both what they have to offer and whether or not they could work within the prevailing system at St James' Park.
It is understood Patrick Vieira, head of Manchester City's elite development squad, is among a small number of contenders with whom discussions will be held, with the name of long-term target Steve McClaren, now a free agent following his sacking by Derby, also on the list.
Former Swansea boss Michael Laudrup too is available after his brief stint in the Middle East, and could be invited to share his thoughts on the position.
However, it appears that John Carver, who took over from Pardew on an interim basis and suffered a tortuous second half of the season, has slipped in the pecking order after winning only three of his 19 Barclays Premier League games at the helm.
The Magpies did much of the groundwork towards making an appointment at the turn of the year, but at that point, their preferred candidate was unavailable.
They spoke to McClaren and Remi Garde, among others, at that stage, and the former England boss was offered the chance to return to the north-east, where he enjoyed a successful spell with Middlesbrough between 2001 and 2006.
However, he opted to remain loyal to the Rams, and in turn, Newcastle decided to keep their powder dry until the end of the campaign.
Little did they know how the remaining months of the season would unfold and McClaren was approached once again with three crucial games left and the club in dire need, with Derby's promotion hopes having being dashed.
Again, the answer was in the negative, but while that did not go down particularly well on Tyneside, the fact that he is now very much available - and perhaps significantly, there would be no compensation to pay - could prove attractive.
Frenchman Vieira would be a very different candidate, one with no proven track record as a head coach, but with a glittering playing career behind him and the authority that brings, particularly among his compatriots, a sizeable number of whom are among the current Magpies' squad.
He is currently completing his coaching qualifications and would certainly be the kind of name to excite disgruntled fans.
Charnley is in no rush to make an appointment with the field having changed markedly since January, but with a big summer in the transfer market ahead of the club following owner Mike Ashley's promise to invest in the squad, he cannot wait too long.
Meanwhile, Newcastle skipper Fabricio Coloccini has hailed close friend Jonas Gutierrez as he prepares to leave the club after his "perfect" send-off.
The Magpies confirmed on Friday evening that the 31-year-old's seven-year stay at St James' Park would come to an end when his contract expires at the end of this month.
That means the final-day 2-0 victory over West Ham, in which Gutierrez scored the second goal to spark mass celebrations as the club secured their Premier League status, was his last contribution.
Coloccini told Newcastle's official website: " Jonas has been a great player for Newcastle and someone who has given everything for the club.
"He was here for seven years and that is a long time to be with one team. But this is football and life continues, and I am sure he will do well wherever his next club is.
"The fans here love him because in the worst days he was still here. Jonas stayed at the club in its worst days - when we went down - and he helped get us straight back up again."
Not only did Gutierrez play his part in the Magpies' return to the top flight in the wake of relegation in 2009, but he fought his way back from testicular cancer and back into the team, signing off with the goal which ultimately spared them from the drop.
Coloccini said: "I am very proud of him for that moment.
"In my opinion, one of the biggest reasons we stayed in the Premier League this season was because Jonas was on the pitch in the final game.
"Scoring in front of the Gallowgate End in his last game for the Club was perfect."
News of Gutierrez's impending departure, if not unexpected, was greeted with anger by some fans, although he had been told he could look for another club two summers ago.
Both Gutierrez and Ryan Taylor have come out and criticised the club for the way their departures were handled.
The pair, who are currently in Belfast at a coaching course, were both told they were being released over the same phone call with current boss John Carver.
Taylor, who has endured an injury-ravaged six-year spell at St James' Park, told Sky Sports News: " John Carver rang me and told me the club weren't going to offer me a new deal.
"So I had a chat with him and then he asked me to pass the phone to Jonas, which was unbelievable.
"He was made to do it, he obviously was upset in doing it. I spoke to him and he seemed upset about telling two good pros who have been there a long time that it's come to an end.
"I can't really blame John because he's under instructions on what to do."
Two-time cancer survivor Gutierrez, who scored in the final-day win that secured the Magpies' Premier League survival, was similarly unimpressed.
"I didn't expect to get offered a new contract but it's not about that, you have to move on," he added.
"The more important thing is that they can pick up a phone and call me or call my agent and say 'Listen, thank you for everything, we are going to release you'."