Certainty may be a stranger at St James' Park right now but two things are definite: Newcastle United will not rush into replacing Alan Pardew and there is no chance of Fabricio Coloccini succeeding him. On a day when the Crystal Palace-bound Pardew, wearing a hoodie pulled down over his face, made a covert return to his old training ground via a side entrance in order to say assorted goodbyes, the club were left bemused by reports linking Coloccini to the post.
The Argentina centre-half, and team captain, does not hold a coaching badge let alone the pro licence now mandatory for managers at Premier League level and was never under the remotest consideration to fill the vacancy.
With a slightly more realistic candidate, Ajax’s Frank de Boer, making it clear he would not countenance leaving Amsterdam mid-season, Newcastle owner Mike Ashley has big decisions to make as he contemplates his options while on holiday in Barbados.
Underwhelmed It is understood the sports retail tycoon has a provisional shortlist that does not include the early supposed favourites Tony Pulis and Tim Sherwood. Of other potential contenders, Steve Bruce is believed to be keen on the job but Hull City would demand a seven-figure sum for his services and Ashley may be underwhelmed by Bruce having spent £40m net during 2014 yet still ending up in a relegation struggle.
Newcastle’s owner is an admirer of Steve McClaren but although Derby County’s manager looks well suited to succeeding Pardew, he recently signed a three-year contract and Ashley could be unwilling to part with the necessary compensation. Meanwhile Saint-Étienne’s Christophe Galtier remains a dark horse.
As Lee Charnley, Newcastle’s managing director and Graham Carr, the powerful chief scout – and friend of Bruce – begin sounding out candidates, John Carver and Steve Stone will serve as caretakers with Carver, Pardew’s old assistant, assuming the principal role and conducting Wednesday’s media duties regarding the home game against Burnley on New Year’s Day. Club sources also expect Carver to be in charge for the weekend’s FA Cup trip to Leicester City and possibly beyond.
Although Peter Beardsley, Newcastle’s reserve team manager, was initially regarded as the leading candidate to take over on a temporary basis, he has not quite completed his pro licence.
Moreover, such a promotion could have been politically awkward and seemed unfair on Carver.
Although Andy Woodman, the goalkeeping coach, is ultimately expected to join Pardew at Palace he remains on Tyneside for the time being and was out on the training pitch on Tuesday working with Jak Alnwick – (currently deputising for the injured Tim Krul and Rob Elliot) – and his 17-year-old son Freddie Woodman.
Later Pardew strode across the club’s training pitches for a final time to watch a Beardsley XI featuring the returning first-team players Jonás Gutiérrez and Davide Santon play a private practice game in which Santon injured an ankle.
It is understood many players were upset and shocked by Pardew’s departure but the training ground farewells were amicable with senior officials wishing their former manager well at Palace.
Pardew, meanwhile, hopes to take charge of his first game as Crystal Palace’s manager at Aston Villa on New Year’s Day after finalising the terms of his departure from Newcastle.
While he is unlikely to oversee Palace's final training session before they depart for Birmingham, with the caretaker manager Keith Millen having undertaken the preparations this week, Pardew's preference is to be in the dugout at Villa Park rather than in the directors' box. The venue is the scene of his most celebrated moment of his playing career, a headed winner against Liverpool in the 1990 FA Cup semi-final.
Tony Pulis, meanwhile, would be willing to work alongside a director of football at West Bromwich Albion as long as guarantees of complete control of the club were included in his contract.
The former Stoke City manager is the joint favourite with Tim Sherwood to succeed Alan Irvine, who was dismissed on Monday after a run of seven defeats in nine matches. The club have spoken to Pulis's representatives and to Sherwood. Guardian Service