Newcastle skipper Alan Shearer is being heavily backed to become the Magpies’ next permanent manager following Sir Bobby Robson’s departure.
The 34-year-old striker has been cut to 13/8 favourite by Ladbrokes after initially being quoted at 11/4 as the search for Robson’s successor began in earnest.
Ladbrokes took two bets of £1,000 (€1,486) within hours of yesterday morning’s announcement that former England boss Robson had been relieved of his duties.
“All the big money has been for Shearer, we have no choice but to make him favourite,” said Ladbrokes spokesman Warren Lush.
“Big hitters are staking four figure sums on Alan taking the helm at St James’ Park.
“There has been interest in Terry Venables, who is 7/1 from 50/1, and Middlesbrough fans will be unhappy to hear Steve McClaren has been punted on in recent hours.
“This said, Steve is always a candidate for big jobs, much the same as Martin O’Neill and Gordon Strachan.
“Money suggests the core candidates are Shearer, Gerard Houllier, Steve Bruce, McClaren, Gordon Strachan and Venables. The market is one of the most lively we’ve seen in years.”
Speculation Shearer would replace Robson one day has been rife ever since he started his coaching qualifications in the wake of chairman Freddy Shepherd’s admission that he would dearly love to appoint another Geordie to the post.
That also catapulted Birmingham’s Bruce into the frame, although he recently signed a five-year contract at St Andrews which would cost the Magpies around £5m (€7.5m) to buy out.
Shepherd has more recently insisted he would not appoint a Geordie simply for the sake of doing so, and the man to replace Robson would be the right one for the job regardless of his birthplace.
But there is a growing feeling Shearer could be involved in some capacity, perhaps in tandem, for the time being at least, with an experienced coach, hence Venables’ shortening odds.
However, the former Southampton and Blackburn hitman will not take temporary charge of team affairs following Robson’s departure.
That job is understood to have gone to Robson’s first-team coach John Carver, the man initially promoted from the club’s academy by Robson’s predecessor Ruud Gullit.
The timing of yesterday’s news came as a surprise to many after suggestions on Sunday the 71-year-old would be given further time to turn the club’s season around following the previous day’s 4-2 defeat at Aston Villa.
However, Robson received the bombshell shortly after arriving for work and was clearly emotional as he left behind the job he admitted was the only one that could have brought him back into the game.