Newcastle United were insistent yesterday that their discussions with Harry Redknapp did not reach the stage where he was offered the job, the specific reason being that Redknapp's first demand was a private jet in which to commute to the North-east from his base in Dorset.
"Managing Newcastle United is a privilege," a club source said. "It is not something you do from the far end of the country."
Redknapp is sure to dispute that after letting Portsmouth know yesterday morning thathe was rejecting Newcastle's approach and is staying at Fratton Park. Redknapp then joined his Portsmouth squad for a flight north in preparation for today's match at Sunderland.
Newcastle now turn to other contenders, some of whom have already been spoken to, but the stress again on "managerial experience" and "a proven track record" would appear to continue to rule out Alan Shearer. However, were Shearer to have an experienced partner alongside him such as Kenny Dalglish, it is not known if that would change the hierarchy's perception of the 37-year-old. Shearer is on holiday in Barbados and is expected to return to Tyneside on Tuesday.
Newcastle are not holding themselves to a timescale. There is no sense that the club feel compelled to appoint a new manager before Wednesday's FA Cup replay against Stoke at St James'. With the club mid-table, there appears to be, however unpalatable it is to the fans, an acceptance that this is now another season of transition. There is no determination for the new man to be British.
"In the process of appointing a new manager at Newcastle United, we have identified and spoken to a number of potential candidates," the chairman, Chris Mort, said. "We can confirm that Harry Redknapp is one of the people the club has spoken to. However, Harry made it clear he is happy with life on the South Coast and we wish him well for the future. This is a very important appointment – our first since taking control of the club – and we will take as long as required to make sure we bring in the right person."
Redknapp is certain to be displeased that he is being portrayed as someone unprepared to make a full commitment to Newcastle, especially as the 60-year-old had let it be known that he would move north with his wife if he did take the job. There is no doubt, though, that geography played some role in his decision.
"I'm happy, this is a club I feel comfortable at," he said of Portsmouth. "I have a fantastic relationship with the fans, a fantastic relationship with the owner and with Peter [Storrie, chief executive]. The players I've brought to the club, I've sold Portsmouth to them, and to walk away, having brought them here, when the club is doing so well, wouldn't be right."