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.
Charnle y 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.