Newcastle United and Rafael Benitez have been dealt a blow in their preparations for the new season after Benitez’s assistant, Fabio Pecchia has left the club to become manager of Serie B club, Hellas Verona.
The Italian coach previously assisted Benitez at Napoli and Real Madrid before making the switch to the North East in an attempt to keep Newcastle in the Premier League, only to fall short behind local rivals Sunderland.
Who could replace Pecchia?
Newcastle United released a statement on Wednesday evening informing fans that “good progress is being made” in regard to finding a replacement for Pecchia.
Mauricio Pellegrino worked with Benitez when the Spaniard managed Inter Milan. Pellegrino is currently out of work after his most recent spell as manager of Independiente came to an end. Pellegrino would offer some senior experience after also managing at Valencia and Estudiantes.
An ex Black Cat?
In Benitez’s next job at Chelsea in 2012/2013, Benitez worked alongside ex Sunderland player, Boudewijn Zenden. Zenden hit the heights at a player with spells at Barcelona, PSV, Liverpool and Chelsea but Dutchman's career in coaching has yet to kick start. The 39-year-old is currently working as assistant manager to Pascal Jensen at Jong PSV, the reserve side to PSV Eindhoven. If approached, Zenden may be tempted to make the set up to a bigger role.
Someone from within?
Antonio Gómez Pérez is still on Newcastle’s coaching staff having joined with Benitez in March 2016. The ever present Pérez has followed Bentiez to Liverpool, Napoli and Real Madrid. Known as his “trusted assistant”, Pérez may be asked to step up into the role.
Scottish coach Ian Cathro joined the Toon Army in 2015 as apart of Steve McClaren’s coaching staff and the former Valencia assistant manager was retained under Benitez. Given Cathro’s experience at Valencia, Benitez could put his faith in him.
Pako Ayestarán accompanied the Newcastle manager in his earlier management days at CF Extremadura, CD Tenerife, Valencia CF and Liverpool. But Ayestarán has made great strides in career since, he has recently replaced Gary Neville in the role of Valencia’s head coach.