Belfast Telegraph

Steve McClaren still clinging on at flailing Newcastle

By Damian Spellman

Newcastle head coach Steve McClaren has spoken to managing director Lee Charnley about his future despite a planned face-to-face meeting not taking place yesterday.

It is understood the pair discussed the situation over the telephone before McClaren, who had earlier taking training for the second successive day, left the club's Darsley Park training headquarters and headed home.

Reports had suggested McClaren and Charnley were to hold showdown talks at St James' Park.

What was said between the two men remains unclear and the club were not commenting last night, but 54-year-old McClaren was wearing a broad smile as cameras captured him walking towards his car.

As a result, the saga surrounding his position seems set to extend into a fifth day since a 3-1 home defeat by Bournemouth left the club in desperate Premier League relegation trouble and saw fans turn on him.

McClaren arrived for work yesterday to be greeted by headlines claiming the club have placed former Real Madrid boss Rafael Benitez at the top of a list of candidates to replace him with just 10 games of the season remaining.

However, as it stands, he remains in charge of preparations for Monday night's trip to leaders Leicester.

McClaren, of course, is a member of the club's football board, but was not present when his three colleagues - Charnley, chief scout Graham Carr and club ambassador Bob Moncur - met on Monday to discuss the parlous on-field situation, but despite concerted rumours, it is still business as usual.

Even if the Magpies do want to dispense with the services of the man they appointed to implement a long-term plan in June last year after just nine months, they would not want to plunge themselves back into the kind of limbo they did last January when they opted not to install a permanent replacement for Alan Pardew.

They only just escaped relegation on the final day of the season after number two John Carver took temporary charge.

But given their current situation, the post would not be as attractive as it might have been in the past with the possibility of the drop into the Sky Bet Championship unlikely to prove much of a draw.

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