Most people involved in the beautiful game admit that Newcastle is one of the greatest football cities on the planet. The supporters are arguably the most passionate in the Premier League and follow the side religiously – no matter who the manager is.

The position of Newcastle United manager is one of the most coveted jobs in European football, or at least it should be, and there are only a select few who are lucky enough to lead the Magpies out in front of a packed St. James’ Park. It is likely that John Carver will leave the club at the end of the season and I’ve come up with five possible candidates who could replace him as the permanent boss, charged with making the Magpies top four contenders once again.

Frank de Boer (Ajax):

The Dutchman was linked with the job after Alan Pardew left for Crystal Palace but a move failed to materialise – however, it would be foolish to rule him out of the running just yet. De Boer is an Ajax legend and played at the club for 11 years while managing them since 2010 – so it may be difficult to persuade him to leave. However, the opportunity to manage in the Premier League doesn’t present itself every day and, after the 44-year-old missed out on the Tottenham job last summer, you hope it would be hard to justify turning down the chance to coach Newcastle United.

Peter Beardsley (Newcastle u-21’s):

Mike Ashley may prefer this option as it would be cheap, yet he might believe that Beardsley isn’t ready for this role yet and that, for now, he should remain with the youth set-up.  Beardsley was a playing legend when playing for the club and has installed an attacking philosophy in the youth set-up already. The club legend would be a popular choice – more for his time at Newcastle as a player than because of any natural coaching ability – and it certainly wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see the 54-year-old take the reins one day in the future.

Rafael Benitez (Napoli):

The former Liverpool boss would be a great candidate and could fit in at the club, especially as he has extensive experience of managing in the Premier League. Many players that have played under Benitez have claimed that the Spaniard’s man-management skills are phenomenal and this could certainly prove beneficial at a club like Newcastle. Tactically, the 54-year-old usually aims to make his teams difficult to beat with a strong defensive unit – something that the Magpies have lacked for years now. On the other hand, one of the main issues with Benitez is that the calibre of player he may want in the transfer window could prove too costly for Mike Ashley’s liking.

Steve Bruce (Hull City):

Bruce spent two seasons at arch-rivals Sunderland between 2009 and 2011, though he claims he turned down the Newcastle job in the days of Freddy Shepherd. Despite these factors, Bruce insists that he has maintained his boyhood love for Newcastle and has been linked with a move away from the KC Stadium to St. James’ Park. The former Manchester United defender would bring bags of experience, expertise in the transfer window and knowledge of the British game – something that a foreign manager cannot provide. This potential move could happen, depending on Hull’s performance for the remainder of the campaign.

Bernd Schuster (Free Agent):

This would be an interesting appointment – mainly as Schuster has failed to hold down any of his jobs for a prolonged period of time, despite coaching some excellent sides. As he is a free agent, there would be no need for Ashley to pay another club compensation and therefore, when you consider the calibre of clubs that the German has been at, he becomes a viable candidate for the role – possibly on a short-term contract. The former Barcelona and Real Madrid midfielder would bring plenty of experience, although he is yet to feature in England’s top flight.