Didier Deschamps has confirmed that he would relish the “exciting” task of reviving Newcastle’s fortunes.
“I have had no official approach from Newcastle but I am flattered to be linked with such speculation,” Deschamps told The Daily Telegraph last night.
“It would be an exciting challenge. Newcastle are a big club.”
Deschamps was sacked by Juventus last May, then turned down the chance of managing Manchester City. He has experience of English football having spent a season with Chelsea in 1999-2000.
As well as having led Monaco to the 2004 Champions League final and guided Juventus to promotion from Serie B, Deschamps also speaks English – one of the criteria laid out by Newcastle chairman Chris Mort.
“This is a big job without having to operate through an interpreter,” said Mort.
“We are not currently a Champions League team, and in six seasons out of the last 10 we have finished in the bottom half of the Premier League,” Mort said. “That means we are not necessarily going to interest a manager already at a team playing Champions League football or whose only ambition is to manage a top team in, say, Spain or Italy.”
Deshamps has emerged as the favoured candidate after Gerard Houllier appeared to rule himself out of contention. The French Football Federation indicated that Houllier, the organisation’s technical director, had decided to stay in his current position.
FFF president Jean-Pierre Escalettes said: “I talked to Gerard by telephone – he is on business for us in the United States – and he told me: ‘Every time an English club is in difficulty my name comes up.’ Gerard’s word is enough for me.”
Houllier had been tipped to form a managerial partnership with former Newcastle captain Alan Shearer.
Asked about the possibility, Shearer said: “Am I wanting it? One day, hopefully.” As for linking up with former manager Kevin Keegan, he added: “I haven’t spoken to Kevin for a long time.”