Martin Jol has emerged as a frontrunner to succeed Chris Hughton as Newcastle United manager after he quit his role as Ajax coach.
The former Tottenham Hotspur boss was installed as the favourite to fill the vacancy after Newcastle sacked Hughton.
Ajax confirmed he had left the club by mutual consent after just seven months in charge.
“With pain in my heart I say goodbye to this wonderful club,” Jol said. “We started something last summer that I would have finished. But I have come to realise that the expectations after last season were too high. We cannot meet such expectations. The amount of criticism that the club has had to endure daily has led to unrest in the club and among players.”
Former West Ham boss Alan Pardew was initially the bookies’ favourite and betting was suspended during the day when money poured in for him.
Meanwhile, former Newcastle captain Alan Shearer has put himself in the frame for the post despite being snubbed by Ashley in favour of Hughton following an eight-game spell in charge that resulted in relegation in May 2009.
“It’s not good, not good news,” Shearer said, when questioned about Hughton’s departure. “Despite what happened [at Newcastle] I loved it and if something was to arise again I would seriously look at it.”
In a statement issued by the League Managers’ Association, Hughton said he was proud of his achievements at Newcastle and that the “termination of my contract is now in the hands of the LMA”.
Hughton, whose contract was due to expire next summer, defended his Newcastle record, stating: “We have built on last season’s momentum following promotion and have produced some excellent results to see us sitting midway in the table.
“I am immensely proud of my achievements with Newcastle and I enjoyed a fantastic relationship with the players, my staff and the supporters during my time as manager. I now wish them and the club all the very best for the future.”
LMA chief executive Richard Bevan added: “The LMA is extremely disappointed that Newcastle have parted company with Chris given the success the club has experienced since his appointment. Throughout his time at Newcastle Chris has conducted himself with tremendous integrity and dignity, the team’s current position of 11th in the Premier League demonstrating the stabilising effect Chris has had.”