Steve McClaren is the 3rd Mac in charge of Newcastle. How does he compare? 

The other two Macs were of course Bill McGarry and Willie McFaul. The latter was a former Newcastle player, employed during a turbulent spell at St James’ Park. He succeeded Jack Charlton after the sale of Chris Waddle, introducing Gazza as an 18 year old. 

Old timers will look back with mixed feelings on those years. Local players were given a chance. Players with a history in domestic football were signed, including later manager Roeder and Paul Goddard, to play with the likes of PeterB. 

McFaul lost his job in 1988 after 2 wins in 9 games. Goddard, current Blackpool manager, Neil McDonald and almost unforgivably, Peter B were all sold, replaced by the first Brazilian in English football, Mirandinha and Scottish striker John Robertson as well as a contingent from Wimbledon. They didn’t gel.

McGarry arouses stronger feelings. Like McClaren, he had a claim to silverware, a League Cup win in 1974. He followed Richard Dinnis into the hot seat and could not avoid relegation. His chance to recover was supported by the purchase of Peter Withe. 

After going top in his 3rd season with a famous New Year win over Sunderland, McGarry was finally sacked in August having masterminded his 2nd league win in 21 games. 

McGarry was followed by Arthur Cox who, along with the signing of Keegan, breathed new life into the club. Could there be the same opportunity for another manager to replace a League Cup winner? 

Ashley stuck with Pardew for 4 years, managing not only to avoid paying compensation but even being reimbursed over Pardew’s departure. This time around, however, Premier League revenues are even higher and surely even Ashley must consider that a man who has won only 4 games in 26, the same as McGarry, could be vulnerable. 

Who could realistically replace him? 

We know Ashley does not like to spend NUFC money but after last season, there has been evidence be a change of heart. Nevertheless we can not expect any of the top names in world football. If there had been, Newcastle supporters might be watching Jurgen Klopp’s brand of football now. 

Simeone, Guardiola, de Boer, sadly these are just names that will forever be pipe dreams for the Geordie public, as will the old Dutch masters of Advocaat and Hiddink.

On the subject of Advocaat, another former Sunderland manager, Steve Bruce always gets a mention. It might be disingenuous to point out that even Poyet and di Canio have at least as many wins at St James' Park as McClaren.

Of the unemployed, Harry Redknapp is surely beyond the end of his career, Alan Curbishley could be realistic but has not managed since 2008 and left West Ham for the same reasons as Keegan at Newcastle. Hoddle has not managed since 2006. 

The media will be quick to jump on those managers who have had recent experience in the Mersey hotbed, Rodgers and Moyes. One has played an exciting brand of football, the other dull but within a budget. After the riches available in Liverpool and Manchester United, neither would come cheap and perhaps are beyond Ashley’s budget. 

There may be imaginative calls for the likes of Jurgen Klinsmann, miracle worker for the USA national team. Whilst he shares a helicopter hobby with Ashley, somehow swapping Southern California for the warm waters of Whitley Bay in winter defies logic. 

Back in the real world, Michael Laudrup is available, plays entertaining football and could use Newcastle as a short term stepping stone to one his former clubs as a player. Who can forget that he played for Barca, Real, Juve and Lazio? At the moment, he will be considered well down the pecking order for any of those. Like McGarry and McClaren, he is a League Cup winner. 

Clarence Seedorf has already been touted by sections of the Italian media. After 4 months of managing Milan, with a 50% win ratio, he could fit the bill. On the playing side,Newcastle have not paid a fee for a player with Premier League experience since Obertan in 2011. Colback, a free transfer, was not a part of the £117m spent in that time. 

Vieira, now managing in the United States, was reputed to have been a potential target in the summer. Perhaps Seedorf does not seem such a bad bet after all? 

Another category to consider is Newcastle old boys. Lee Clark has been open about his ambition to come back one day, having been a player (twice) and coach. His pedigree since a decent run at Huddersfield has been with troubled Birmingham and Blackpool. This may be too soon, although he could come cheap enough for Ashley. 

Another who has expressed interest in the past is Temuri Ketsbaia, having already taken Anorthis Famagusta into the group stages of the Champions League. Currently topping the Cyprus league with APOEL, Ashley may have missed his chance. 

There will be further speculation over time, no doubt including the likes of Neil Warnock, even Joe Kinnear, as old heads, younger managers from France and the Netherlands, perhaps even from Spain. No doubt other names like Dyche may make it into the media hats.

There is a dark horse who could be worth a sly bet. Currently an international manager, he has qualified for the Euros in 2016. No, not Chris Coleman, he is a group winner. No, not Hodgson either.

Step forward Michael O’Neill, with 1 defeat and 6 wins at the helm with Northern Ireland. Building on his record of taking Shamrock Rovers to the group stages of the Europa League, O’Neill has impressed with limited resources. 

Older supporters will remember his time as a Newcastle player, introduced by Willie McFaul. Who could forget his unique record, at the end of the 1987-8 season scoring in the last 6 homes games, a total of 10 goals? 

O’Neill certainly ticks a lot of boxes and only has a few friendly matches before having a scouting trip at the Euros paid for by the Northern Ireland FA, instead of coming from Ashley’s budget. There is no barrier to his doing both jobs until the summer. 

A Newcastle hero, a likeable and progressive young manager, wage demands that would meet the owner’s pocket, is there a better fit? After the Macs, why not a Supermike?