Why Newcastle United wanted Emery as manager – The Athletic

How do you solve a problem when Newcastle United are threatened with relegation but have their eyes on trophies? How do you nurture a fan base conditioned to mediocrity and provide security to a first team that has jumped between formations and systems and has no identity but failure? Who is the manager cum alchemist who can turn that failure into success?

After an extensive and thorough recruitment process, Newcastle’s new owners believe they have an answer: Unai Emery.

The Spaniard is closest to a candidate who ticks each box. He has a daunting list of tasks ahead of him, including shocking players, building the club and ultimately getting them to compete. Whether he’ll last the whole trip is out of the question for now – he’s been offered a three-year contract – but they want Emery to start. It would be an exciting, ambitious appointment.

The situation was made for Rafa Benitez, the manager Amanda Staveley constructed her first bid to buy Newcastle around and who, at various points in the last 19 months, may have been available. Benitez knows Newcastle and the rhythms of the city, he absorbed them and kept them up in difficult circumstances. He is definitely a winner, but that ship sailed when Benitez joined Everton, leaving Staveley without a first-choice candidate.

A figure close to Staveley, who not only owns 10 per cent of Newcastle but also runs the club on behalf of the board, described Emery as “Rafa-esque”. He’s an all-rounder, not a firefighter in the shape of Sam Allardyce, not the man to take you from second place in the world.

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