SAM ALLARDYCE has made the remarkable claim that he turned down an offer to return to Newcastle United as manager this week.

Allardyce, who was sacked by Mike Ashley after an unsuccesful spell in charge of the Magpies at the start of the current owner's reign, claims to have been approached by Lee Charnley on Tuesday.

Newcastle's managerial search is descending into farce amid claims that a number of high-profile candidates such as Patrick Vieira, Mikel Arteta and Steven Gerrard have rejected approaches from the Magpies hierarchy.

As a result, Charnley is understood to be canvassing alternative options, with Sheffield Wednesday boss Steve Bruce having emerged as a strong favourite to replace Rafael Benitez.

However, while Bruce is now Newcastle's preferred option, Allardyce claims he was in the running at the start of the week.

Speaking on talkSPORT, the much-travelled manager said: "I was extremely surprised.

"It never really got to the sort of talks everybody is suggesting. They had a chat with my agent, and as much as I respect Newcastle, Newcastle fans and Mike (Ashley), it wasn't for me.

"I think that I politely said no and moved on. I had that thing in my mind, 'Don't go back'. Maybe if it had been the first time round, I would have jumped at it. But not now. While I appreciate the offer, I was surprised."

Speaking about his first spell on Tyneside, Allardyce added: "It wasn't pleasant in the end, but I was in the middle of a takeover and a restructuring that Mike went through.

"I had a fabulous start at the club, but we were desperate for better players at the time and wanted to forge forward, but they decided to move in a different direction. I had no problems with that, or the way it was handled. It was handled brilliantly by Mike, and his staff at the time."