Rafa Benitez being lined up to take over at Newcastle
Newcastle United are lining up Rafael Benitez to replace beleaguered manager Steve McClaren, according to widespread reports.
McClaren is expected to be relieved of his duties imminently after Newcastle's plight in the bottom three of the Premier League showed no sign of improving following Saturday's 3-1 home defeat against Bournemouth.
David Moyes has been widely tipped to take over from McClaren at St James' Park, but Benitez's willingness to take over at Newcastle - possibly on a short-term deal until the end of the season - believed to appeal to the Newcastle hierarchy.
Benitez's no-nonsense approach and vast experience from his time in England with Liverpool and Chelsea, in Italy with Inter Milan and Napoli and in his native Spain with Valencia and Real Madrid make his a high profile candidate for Newcastle to target.
Now reports claim that initial contact with the out-of-work tactician has encouraged Newcastle to believe they could persuade Benitez to take on a job that has become one of the most challenging in the Premier League.
Bookies have slashed the odds on Benitez taking over as Newcastle boss before the weekend, with the vital clash against local relegation rivals Sunderland now viewed as a must-win game on March 20th.