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Martin Jol has emerged as the frontrunner to succeed Chris Hughton as Newcastle United manager after he quit his role as Ajax coach.

The former Tottenham Hotspur manager was installed as the odds-on favourite to fill the vacancy at St James’ Park following Newcastle United’s decision to sack Hughton, and is believed to have held talks with club officials.

Ajax confirmed he had left the club by mutual consent after just seven months in charge. “With pain in my heart I say goodbye to this wonderful club,” Jol said. “We started something last summer that I would have finished. But I have come to realise that the expectations after last season were too high. We cannot meet such expectations. The amount of criticism that the club has had to endure daily has led to unrest in the club and among players.”

The fact Jol, who used to work with Hughton at Tottenham and still has a base in England, has quit Ajax will be important to Newcastle because club owner Mike Ashley is loath to pay compensation.

Should Newcastle confirm that Jol – who was sacked at Spurs when Ashley’s friend Paul Kemsley was vice-chairman – has landed the job it will come as a blow to Pardew who is said to be “strongly interested” in the position and has been contacted by officials at the North-East club.

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