Houllier and Eriksson are Toon contenders

May 10, 2007

Intrigue surrounds the vacant manager's job at Newcastle with Gerard Houllier and Sven-Goran Eriksson having emerged as potential contenders.

Former Bolton boss Sam Allardyce has been identified as chairman Freddy Shepherd's number one target, but with no appointment expected until after the end of the current season on Sunday, there has been no shortage of interest in the post vacated by Glenn Roeder at the weekend.

The emergence of both Frenchman Houllier and former England boss Eriksson has caused a stir on Tyneside, where opinion on Allardyce is divided to say the least.

His Sunderland background is a consideration for some - he both played for and was on the staff at the Wearside club - although it is the style of football Bolton played under his charge which concerns many more.

Whether or not that is justified, the news that former Liverpool boss Houllier and Eriksson could be interested has sparked a fresh debate.

The Swede's agent, Athole Still, said: 'There has been no contact whatsoever, but if Newcastle were interested in Sven-Goran Eriksson, I am sure Sven-Goran Eriksson would be interested in talking to Newcastle.

'Sven is very keen to get back into club football and he would be interested in talking to any club which had real ambition.'

Houllier's success at Lyon - his side has clinched the French title for the sixth successive time and second since his arrival - has simply enhanced his credentials.

Both men have been linked with Newcastle before, and while Eriksson seems an unlikely candidate, Houllier could represent an attractive proposition should the club's pursuit of Allardyce stall.

Bolton chairman Phil Gartside has gone on record saying he would expect to be adequately compensated for the remaining two years of his former manager's contract, while he has also had to contend with the damaging allegations concerning his transfer business made by a Panorama programme last year.

Allardyce has repeatedly protested his innocence, but there is little doubt Shepherd would not welcome further controversy after an eventful few years at St James' Park.

In the meantime, Roeder's number two Nigel Pearson will take on the task of leading the club into their final Premiership fixture at relegated Watford hoping for as much success as his last two predecessors.

Coach John Carver took charge for the 3-0 victory over Blackburn as he bridged the gap between the departure of Sir Bobby Robson and Graeme Souness' arrival, while Roeder led his side to a 2-0 win over Portsmouth in which Alan Shearer scored his 201st goal for the club after succeeding Souness as caretaker manager.