ALAN PARDEW has been backed in to second-favourite to take over from Rafa Benitez as Newcastle boss – and is technically STILL under contract at the club from his first spell.
Pards put pen to paper on a bizarre EIGHT-YEAR deal in 2012, only to join Crystal Palace in 2014.
Benitez and his whole backroom staff will depart on June 30, with the Toon now beginning their search for a new boss.
And Jose Mourinho – out of work since being sacked by Manchester United in December 2018 – joins Pardew at 7/1 with Betfair.
Manchester City assistant Arteta is 5/1 favourite – with sacked Birmingham chief Garry Monk in the top five at 10/1, along with Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe.
Two ex-Newcastle bosses Alan Pardew and Chris Hughton are joint-second favourites along with Mourinho at 7/1.
Elsewhere, Steven Gerrard (12/1), Roy Keane and Gennaro Gattuso (both 14/1) are amongst the front-runners.
Big names including Mark Hughes (16/1), Patrick Viera, David Moyes (both 20/1) and Arsene Wenger (25/1) could be in line for the gig too.
On Monday’s news, a Toon statement read: “It is with disappointment that we announce manager Rafael Benitez will leave Newcastle United upon the expiry of his contract on 30th June 2019.
“We have worked hard to extend Rafa’s contract over a significant period of time, however it has not been – and will not be – possible to reach an agreement with Rafa and his representatives.
“Rafa’s coaching staff, Paco de Miguel Moreno, Antonio Gomez Perez and Mikel Antia, will also leave the club on June 30.
“We would like to thank Rafa and his coaching team for their efforts over the last three years and their significant contribution to what has been collectively achieved.
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“We would also like to thank our supporters, players and staff for their patience during a period of uncertainty.
“The process to appoint a successor will now begin.”
Whoever takes over at from Benitez at Newcastle will have until August 11 to ready their troops before their 2019-20 Premier League opener at home to Arsenal.