Didier Deschamps has admitted he is flattered to be named as favourite to take over at Newcastle United as the Premier League club's search for a new manager gathers pace. The former Juventus and Monaco boss emerged as the leading candidate to succeed Sam Allardyce at St James' Park after Gerard Houllier ruled himself out of the running.
Deschamps, who captained France to victory at the 1998 FIFA World Cup™ and UEFA EURO 2000, is currently unemployed after quitting the Turin heavyweights and would love to return to management at Newcastle. He has an impressive track record after leading Monaco to the UEFA Champions League final in 2004 on a limited budget.
Language would not be an issue either as Deschamps speaks good English and he has experience of the league after a season with Chelsea in 1999/2000. He claimed Newcastle had yet to approach him but the 39-year-old did little to dampen speculation that he is set to fly in for talks with Newcastle owner Mike Ashley and chairman Chris Mort.
"I have had no official approach from Newcastle but I am flattered to be linked with such speculation," Deschamps told the Daily Telegraph. "It would be an exciting challenge. Newcastle are a big club."
Shearer willing to talk
Ashley and Mort have made it clear they want an experienced manager, leaving fans' favourite Alan Shearer as a long-shot despite his insistence he could do the job. Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp turned down Newcastle's £5 million per-year contract offer last week.
Houllier was next in line but his boss Jean-Pierre Escalettes at the French Football Federation, where he works as a technical director, insisted on Tuesday that the former Liverpool coach was happy to stay in his current role. That snub forced Ashley and Mort to draw up a new wanted list.
Blackburn Rovers Mark Hughes would be interested if they approached him, as would former England coach Steve McClaren. But former Newcastle and England striker Shearer, who has worked as a television pundit since retiring 18 months ago, believes he will not be considered because he has no managerial experience.
"A couple of days after Sam Allardyce got the sack, I got a
call from the club to say they were looking for an experienced
manager, which ruled me out," he told The Sun newspaper.
"What I can say is that if you want someone to galvanise the
dressing room, get them organised and playing then, yes, I think I
could do that.
"If they want that and someone with experience then I'm not that man. If they had asked me to meet the chairman to talk about this job, I would have done it. I might not have experience but I know all about this football club, the fans and the area."
It had been suggested Shearer might work with another Newcastle legend, Kevin Keegan, while he learns the job but the 37-year-old believes that would not wash with the older man. "People have talked about me being a number two under an experienced manager," he continued. "But if they are after an experienced manager, which they are, he will no doubt want his own man.
"All I would say is that if someone comes in and wants to talk to me, I would be willing to help in any way I can. It is my club. I scored 206 goals for them and played for them for a decade. I would do anything to help them."