LAST night’s 3-0 defeat at Arsenal has piled further pressure on under-fire Newcastle United boss Steve Bruce.

The bookmakers make the Magpies manager a strong favourite to be the next Premier League boss to leave his position, ahead of Sheffield United’s Chris Wilder and Chelsea’s Frank Lampard, and while Newcastle remain seven points clear of the relegation zone, Mike Ashley will be pondering his next move.

Who are the leading candidates to succeed Bruce if Ashley decides a change of manager is required?

Here are the current favourites with bookmaker Paddy Power…


The Northern Echo:

The former Bournemouth boss has been out of work since leaving the Vitality Stadium at the end of last season. Things might have ended badly with the Cherries, with Howe unable to keep Bournemouth in the Premier League last term, but the 43-year-old, who has recently been linked with Celtic, achieved sustained success on a limited budget on the south coast.


The Northern Echo: Mark Hughes (left)

Given his managerial record at a host of different clubs, Hughes fits the Steve Bruce mould of being a ‘tried and tested’ Premier League boss. His last managerial position came to an end in December 2018 when he left Southampton, and while he had a brief spell in charge of Manchester City, he is probably best known managerially for his time at Blackburn and Stoke.


The Northern Echo:

Could Bruce’s predecessor really make a dramatic return to St James’ Park? It is hard to see under the current regime, with Benitez’s relationship with Ashley having been badly fractured when he left his position 18 months ago, but a change of ownership could pave the way for the Spaniard to pick up where he left off in the summer of 2019.


The Northern Echo: England manager Steve Cooper has taken the team to the Euro 2018 semi-final. (Mike Egerton/PA)

When it comes to ambitious young managers making their way in the Football League, Cooper is currently the stand-out candidate for any Premier League club seeking a change of direction. The 41-year-old former England youth boss has led Swansea City to second position in the current Championship table and has reintroduced an attractive brand of passing football to the Liberty Stadium.


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It didn’t work first time around, when he was unable to keep Newcastle in the Premier League in his first spell as a manager, but might Shearer be tasked with riding to the rescue for a second time? It is pretty much impossible to see under Ashley, with the former Magpies skipper having been deeply critical of the current owner, but new owners might regard the appointment of a club legend as an easy early win with the fans.


The Northern Echo:

Blanc has regularly been mentioned when managerial vacancies have arisen on Tyneside, and the former France boss has previously suggested he would be keen to work at Newcastle. Now 55, Blanc is currently working in the Middle East as the head coach of Qatar Stars League club Al-Rayyan.


The Northern Echo: Andre Villas-Boas

Another overseas candidate who has been linked with Newcastle in the past, Villas-Boas is currently the manager of French Ligue 1 side Marseille. It is hard to see why he would swap the Stade Velodrome for a battle in the bottom half of the table on Tyneside, although he might feel he has unfinished business in England after his spell at Tottenham.