Steve Bruce on the brink of Newcastle United sack as owners eye Ralf Rangnick for sporting director

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Steve Bruce to be sacked as Newcastle United manager and new owners eye Ralf Rangnick for role - GETTY IMAGES
Steve Bruce to be sacked as Newcastle United manager and new owners eye Ralf Rangnick for role - GETTY IMAGES

Steve Bruce is expected to be sacked as Newcastle United manager ahead of the club’s first match under its new ownership next weekend.

Newcastle’s owners have also been considering a move for Ralf Rangnick, among a number of candidates, to become the sporting director as they swiftly begin a huge re-structuring of the club after the long-protracted £305million takeover was finally completed.

At the same time, Newcastle are stepping up the search for a chief executive with three headhunting firms being employed. Ideally they would have liked to have had the new CEO in place before making the other key decisions but accept that may not be possible.

The priority will be to identify Bruce’s replacement with the 60-year-old expected to be told he is being let go when he holds talks with the new owners this week. Bruce and the playing squad who have not been on international duty have had the last three days off and are due to report back to training on Monday.

The likelihood is that assistant manager Graeme Jones will be in charge for Sunday’s Premier League match at home to Tottenham Hotspur and will remain as caretaker until a permanent appointment is made. However, it remains to be seen whether Jones will be handed that role as discussions are ongoing among the new owners as to what to do and the structure they want. The Tottenham game was to be Bruce’s 1,000th as a manager.

Instead Bruce is expecting to be sacked and said as much in an exclusive interview with Telegraph Sport last week on the day the Saudi-led takeover was confirmed. The 60-year-old is due a pay-off of just under £8million on the rolling contract he signed when he was appointed as Newcastle’s head coach in 2019.

When the takeover appeared to be going through last year the new owners planned to give Bruce time to prove he was the man to take the team forward. However this season there has been little sign of progress with Newcastle in the bottom three and not have won any of their opening seven league games.

Amanda Staveley, the financier who is heading the takeover and has been respectful of Bruce’s situation, spoke of how the team had underperformed immediately after the deal went through.

Importantly Bruce’s popularity among the Newcastle fans has continued to fall and, unfortunately for him, he has become closely associated with the despised Mike Ashley regime.

Newcastle will work through a list of candidates to replace Bruce. Gateshead-born Jones, who joined Newcastle in January after leaving his role at AFC Bournemouth, is a former assistant to Belgium coach Roberto Martinez and it is known that the Spaniard is keen on a return to club management although it is unclear as to whether he is under consideration. Martinez has been strongly linked to Barcelona where Ronald Koeman’s future remains in doubt.

The final decision on all the key appointments will rest with Newcastle’s new non-executive chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan who is also governor of the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund which has acquired an 80 per cent stake in the club. Ten per cent has been bought by the British property magnates, the Reuben Brothers, with Jamie Reuben joining the board which is – at present – completed by Staveley, who runs PCP Capital Partners. Further board appointments will be made.

PCP also has the contract for the day-to-day running of Newcastle with Staveley working alongside her husband, Mehrdad Ghodoussi. Currently Frank McParland, former Liverpool academy director, is being used as a football adviser. McParland is also hoping to be awarded a formal role at Newcastle.

Given the length of time, they have been attempting to buy Newcastle the consortium has worked its way through various alternatives for the key roles including sporting director or director of football and is yet to decide the framework.

There has been some debate as to whether this needs to be someone concentrating on player trading or, as is more likely, who can take a far wider role in the revamping of the club especially as there are plans for a new training ground and academy. Or whether that is two separate appointments.

Rangnick is one of the names who has been discussed in the past and remains in the thinking. The 63-year-old German, who is currently the head of sports and development at Russian club Lokomotiv Moscow, has held a series of coaching and executive positions most noticeably at RB Leipzig where he was the coach but also helped oversee the expansion of the Red Bull group as director of football.

Rangnick was interviewed for the job of Everton manager before Carlo Ancelotti was appointed and was also wanted as England manager by Dan Ashworth when he was the FA’s technical director. Rangnick speaks perfect English and, for a long time, has been intrigued by the prospect of working in the Premier League and is also understood to prefer an executive rather than a coaching role at this stage of his career.

Newcastle have also considered Jason Wilcox, the Manchester City academy director, and a range of other candidates.

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