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Manager Watch: A New (Betting) Favorite Emerges

While Alan Pardew still hasn't technically taken over at Crystal Palace, speculation remains the order of the day at St. James' Park.

Martin Willetts/Getty Images

While technically Alan Pardew currently remains manager of Newcastle United, we're to believe that any moment now he will be signing a new deal with Crystal Palace.  This gives us reason to take a look at what progress, if any, has been made in the search for a new permanent manager at St. James' Park.  Predictably, absolutely no discernible progress has been made – typical to Mike Ashley's preferred management style – while we have seen a number of names fall by the wayside.

Confusing the ultimate matter in the managerial rumor mill is the introduction of gradations in the assertions of some candidates, who are qualifying statements of intent to stay with "I will be with until the end of the season."  Frank de Boer was the first to come out with this, leading to speculation that Newcastle may go with an interim manager until the end of the season.  St. Etienne's Christophe Galtier is the latest to join this camp with his own "I'll be here until the end of the season" pronouncementSteve Bruce has also ruled himself out in spite of voicing regret previously that he didn't take the St. James' Park hot seat in 2004 when offered.

Although names are being ruled out or are ruling themselves out, there is movement at the top of the odds chart for Next Permanent Newcastle United Manager.  Granted, most of what we have to deal with is driven by betting sites who have no responsibility to be well... responsible but have a vested interest in getting money flying around on names that may or may not even be in the frame.  By and large we can assume that those names sitting on extremely short odds have at least been seriously considered by the NUFC board.  Perhaps most interesting are the new front-runner and a manager who has cut his teeth in the northeast.

Steve McClaren (5/2, 10/3)

Steve McClaren is an interesting name in the English managerial strata.  He has been both highly regarded and run out of town on a rail.  He has managed England and was the first Englishman to manage in the Bundesliga (Wolfsburg, 2010-2011) although he was sacked outright before the season was finished.  Probably his most famous successes came as manager of FC Twente in the Eredivisie culminating with the league title in 2009-2010, the club's first ever league triumph.  Interestingly, with that triumph McClaren became the first English manager to win a top-tier European league title since Sir Bobby Robson's triumph with FC Porto in 1996.  In fact, he had been encouraged to take the Twente job by Sir Bobby himself:

"The relationship I had with Bobby was very special. He was a good friend and was of big influence on my decision to join FC Twente. I'd like to think that he'll be watching from a cloud up above and wishes us the best as we play the last game in the league against NAC".[70]

--Translation via Wikipedia from 2010 De Telegraaf article

McClaren has never presided over what you would call a long tenure at any club he has managed with his first full management job at Middlesbrough standing as his longest at 5 seasons.  His tenures haven't exactly been feast or famine, although league struggles are as often a hallmark of his jobs to this point as not.  In all fairness, the seasons in which he has struggled in the league are almost always accompanied by a) deep progress in domestic cup competitions, b) significant progress in European competition (he took Middlesborough to the UEFA cup final and Twente to its deepest European progress in club history) or c) both.

Perhaps the most attractive arbitrary term that has been affixed to McClaren is the "continental style" that he brings with him.  Although he has not directly addressed his connection with the Newcastle United job, he has at least in some nebulous form acknowledged that managers have been connected with the NUFC post.

Aitor Karanka (10/1, 14/1)

From a former Middlesbrough manager to the current one, Aitor Karanka has seen his odds slashed drastically over the past several hours from 40/1 to a best available price of 10/1.  The 41 year-old Spaniard has been the head coach at Middlesbrough since the opening of the 2013-14 Championship season.  His first season in charge saw Boro take a solid mid-table finish at 12th place while they are well in the fight for promotion this year, currently sitting 4th place and only 5 points of Bournemouth at the top of the table.  Promotion would see the club in the Premier League for the first time since going down (with Newcastle United) following the 2008-09 season.

Perhaps the most intriguing bit of Karanka's resume is a three-year stint as assistant manager at Real Madrid under Jose Mourinho.  He would certainly be a bit of a risk as a relative unknown managerial quantity, but certainly has the connections to be intriguing and has his current club moving in the right direction.

Tomas Tuchel (12/1, 16/1)

Tuchel is an intriguing name that has been mentioned from the start of the current managerial situation and hasn't seen particularly strong movement (odds-wise) toward or away from the job.  Compared to the likes of Frank de Boer or even Aitor Karanka, he doesn't have the same playing resume having topped out as a player with 69 appearances over four seasons at SSV Ulm.  What he does, bring, however, is an intriguing (if very small) body of managerial work.  If Alan Pardew was the tactical dunce that many purported that he was during his time at Newcastle United, Tuchel would occupy a place somewhere on the opposite side of the spectrum.  His years at Mainz 05 in the Bundesliga saw a relatively small club consistently overachieve, qualifying for the Europa League and finishing as high as 5th.  It's hard to see Tuchel as a serious candidate to replace Alan Pardew (as an up-and-comer, Karanka would likely be available at a much more Ashley-friendly price), but reading up on his tactical nous kind of gets one excited:

For now, however, we hurry up and wait - something which a familiar procedure for Newcastle United fans.