O'Leary tempted by Newcastle

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The Independent Football

David O'Leary has emerged as a strong contender for the vacant managerial job at Newcastle United, while Sam Allardyce has told friends that he would face a dilemma should he be offered the post.

David O'Leary has emerged as a strong contender for the vacant managerial job at Newcastle United, while Sam Allardyce has told friends that he would face a dilemma should he be offered the post.

It is understood that O'Leary, the highly ambitious Aston Villa manager, has been pushing his own claims to succeed Sir Bobby Robson, who was sacked on Monday. The Irishman, who has two years left on his contract at Villa Park, has complained bitterly about the lack of transfer funds available to him - and, tellingly, spoke in glowing terms at the weekend of how "wonderful" a club Newcastle is.

Allardyce, meanwhile, who is on a break in Spain, has told friends that his head would tell him to turn down a move to Newcastle - knowing that he would have to quickly sort out a troublesome dressing room - but his heart tells him that, aged 50, this may be his only shot of a move to a bigger club than Bolton Wanderers. Bolton are confident that he will stay but that could be in the balance should Newcastle make a serious and substantial offer.

The Newcastle chairman, Freddy Shepherd, knows that he has to move quickly to find a replacement for Robson, especially in the face of growing anger among the fans. He said yesterday that a shortlist had been drawn up and is understood to have ruled out appointing a foreign manager, despite several inquiries from abroad. He also knows that both Steve Bruce and Steve McClaren are unavailable.

What has come as more of a shock is Alan Shearer's apparent insistence that he does not want to be involved in any coaching right now and wants to solely concentrate on playing until he retires at the end of this season. That has put an approach to Terry Venables, who was to act as a temporary manager and mentor to Shearer, on hold. Shepherd, however, remains hopeful that he can persuade Shearer to change his mind.

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