Betting Special: Benitez well backed to replace Steve McClaren at Newcastle

The Magpies head coach is the red-hot favourite to be the next Premier League manager to leave his post and the former Real Madrid boss has been a popular bet to replace him
Newcastle United are staring Premier League relegation in the face after a dismal run of form under Steve McClaren. While Aston Villa are eight points adrift at the foot of the table, it now looks like two of Sunderland, Norwich and the Magpies will be joining them in the Championship next term.

Mike Ashley has made plenty of managerial changes in his time as Newcastle chairman, although if he is to dispense with the services of Steve McClaren, himself only appointed in the summer, then he has left it extremely late to do so. Nevertheless, the former England boss is just 1/12 (1.08) to be the next top flight boss to leave his post with William Hill.

In the past 24 hours there has been a significant shift in the odds on who might take up the role, with Rafael Benitez well backed into odds-on favouritism amid reports he is set to be offered the post. The former Liverpool and Chelsea manager, who began the season in charge of Real Madrid, is now just 2/7 (1.29) to take over at St James' Park.

It seems unlikely that Benitez would make his managerial return for a relegation battle at a club that could well be playing second tier football next season but the support has been sustained and the move would certainly suggest he is Ashley’s primary target.

Previously it had been David Moyes who had been linked with a Premier League return after a disappointing spell in Spain and he remains towards the front of the market, on offer at 4/1 (5.0).

Nigel Pearson is a candidate who understands what it takes to maintain top flight survival having led Leicester City to one of the most miraculous comebacks in Premier League history last term before leaving his role in the summer. The 52-year-old is priced at 9/1 (10.0) with William Hill.

Brendan Rodgers is a best price of 12/1 (13.0) to make his comeback to management, having left Liverpool earlier in the season.

Tim Sherwood (20/1) is another big odds outsider but all the interest is in Benitez making a spectacular return to the Premier League having left Chelsea in 2013.