Mike Ashley can set Newcastle United on a brighter path by replacing Steve Bruce with Swansea City head coach Steve Cooper.
According to the Mirror, the Jacks gaffer is on a seven-man shortlist of likely options for the Toon to consider should the axe fall on Bruce’s Tyneside tenure.
The Magpies are approaching their sacking season for under-fire managers, with Steve McLaren relieved of his duties and replaced by Rafa Benitez with 10 games remaining of the 2015/16 season.
Alan Shearer also replaced Joe Kinnear in the hot seat with eight games to spare in the 2008/09 campaign, but – like Benitez – was unable to avoid relegation with not enough time left on the clock to change the fortunes at St. James’ Park.
Newcastle have 13 games to play in the current term to save their Premier League status for another year, with Bruce’s side currently just three points clear of the relegation zone. They have also lost 14 of their 25 fixtures played to date – only basement boys Sheffield United (20) and West Bromwich Albion (15) have been beaten more often.
Ashley is now nearing his hit or stick moment with Bruce, and there are said to be several candidates in with a chance of taking over in Benitez, Roberto Martinez, Graeme Jones, Eddie Howe, Sean Dyche, Cooper and a possible Toon return for Alan Pardew.
Newcastle are not currently seen as a priority for Ashley, who is focusing on his Fraser Group high street empire, while Chronicle Live report that the United owner is reluctant to pay Bruce a seven-figure pay-off amid a lack of gate revenue.
But things could change quickly if the Magpies lose to Wolverhampton Wanderers and 18th-placed Fulham beat Crystal Palace this weekend, with Ashley’s stance thought to be dependent on Bruce keeping Newcastle out of the bottom three.
It remains to be seen if Ashley takes any action on Bruce’s position anytime soon, but the Newcastle owner can set United on a brighter path by appointing Cooper as his replacement.
Newcastle could face a lot of competition to hire Cooper, not least from Swansea with the Welsh outfit in the midst of a Championship promotion battle, but also from Crystal Palace.
The Eagles are said to have been impressed by his record at the Liberty Stadium and see the 41-year-old as a potential replacement for Roy Hodson, whose contract is up at the end of the season.
Cooper is also an attractive coach for his connections from the Young Lions fold, while his knowledge of the emerging youth talents in the country are seen to have given his current side a boost in the transfer market
He won the Under 17 World Cup with England’s youth ranks in 2017 after orchestrating a comeback to beat Spain 5-2 in the final, having trailed 2-0 in the first half. And those connections would certainly be useful at St. James’ Park this summer, where funds are expected to be tight and several gaps will need to be plugged.
Former England international Kevin Phillips additionally once lauded Cooper for doing a “fantastic job” at Swansea, while The Guardian describe his Jacks side as being built on solid foundations in Freddie Woodman – the Toon loanee has 16 clean sheets in 28 Championship games this season.
It would surely take a lot to prise cooper away from the Liberty Stadium, which may not appeal to Ashley after paying Sheffield Wednesday £4m for Bruce, but hiring the Swansea boss could be the best route to securing a brighter future on Tyneside.
AND in other news, Newcastle are exploring a deal to sign a £31.5m-rated star for free this summer…