Celtic’s managerial hunt has taken yet another fresh twist today, with reports coming out of Italy that Rafa Benitez will stay at Newcastle.
According to Calcio Mercato, Benitez has received the guarantees he was after from Newcastle. This apparently includes an agreeable budget to get the Tyneside outfit into Europe.
The Italian outlet led with the angle of him not moving to Roma because of it. Therefore, it’s safe to assume that we would be out of the running too.
Benitez has been locked in talks with Newcastle this week. Chronicle Live reported yesterday that Benitez and Newcastle wanted the discussions to end positively. If the report from Italy is to be believed, that’s exactly what has happened.
Benitez managed to guide Newcastle to a cool 13th placed finish this season. It was their first year back in the Premier League, after being promoted as Championship champions. In order for Newcastle to gain the European football Benitez apparently craves, they must finish in the top eight.
Managerial chase is hotting up nicely at Celtic
This is a blow. It feels at this stage as though we’re just waiting for the final nail in the coffin. There has been no official confirmation of a deal being agreed by Newcastle or Benitez’s representatives. But the noises coming from the talks aren’t great from a Celtic perspective.
But what is intriguing at this point is the names that are now having to be dismissed. Benitez would join Steve Clarke in not being a candidate if he accepts a new deal. Clarke was appointed Scotland manager yesterday, and that effectively puts that to an end.
A long shot was the idea of Graham Potter coming to Parkhead too. He was reported by the BBC to have been linked to the job, but he has now become the new Brighton manager.
The Scottish Cup final is this Sunday. With a bit of luck, Neil Lennon will meet with the board right after it. That’s an interesting concept too. Do the Celtic board really believe Lennon to be a firm candidate? Perhaps. It will also be interesting to see how much of a bearing the cup final actually has on Lennon’s chances.
But outside of that, the hotly-favoured contenders are starting to whittle down. Celtic need to make a move soon, and at this stage, it’s anybody’s guess.