Newcastle United and Aston Villa cult hero makes surprise managerial move

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The former Magpies star has been thrust into a relegation battle after accepting a surprise offer.

Former Newcastle United winger Nolberto Solano has made a surprise step in his managerial career after taking charge at Swedish second tier club AFC Eskilstuna.

The Peruvian became a firm fans favourite during two spells at St James Park after initially joining the Magpies from Argentinean giants Boca Juniors in a £2.5million deal during the summer of 1998. Solano was a key part of the United side that reached the FA Cup Final during his first season on Tyneside and remained integral as Sir Bobby Robson led the Magpies into the Champions League for only the second time in their history three years later.

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Solano spent 18 months at Aston Villa after making a £1.5million move to the Midlands in January 2004 but returned to St James Park in the first month of the 2005/06 on the same day Michael Owen became the Magpies record signing.

After departing for a second time at the end of the 2006/07 season, Solano went on to spend time with West Ham United, Cypriot side Larissa, Leicester City, Hull City and Hartlepool United before he brought an end to his playing career in 2012. His coaching career kicked off the same summer when Solano took charge of Peruvian side Universitario de Deportes and he also spent time as assistant manager to Peru head coach Ricardo Gareca.

However, he will now step back into the dugout in the unlikely setting of Sweden’s second tier - the Superettan - as he takes charge of an Eskilstuna side that are currently sat second from bottom in the table after they have won just three of their opening 14 league games.

One of those wins came in Solano’s first game in charge as his new side claimed a 2-1 home win against Brage on Sunday and the former Magpies star will hope to build on that win when Eskilstuna travel to Landskrona this weekend.

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After taking charge, Solano told local news outlet Eskilstuna-Kurinen: “I like the challenge. I am aware that the club is in a tough situation right now, sportingly speaking. But after watching the team for the last four, five weeks, I know we have the players to get out of that situation.”

The club’s CEO Mikael Larsson explained the reasons behind the surprise decision to appoint the former Peruvian international, telling the same outlet: “He was in our contact network and we have looked at many different types of coaches. Both Swedish and international, experienced and inexperienced. After a number of meetings, it felt absolutely right to bring in his experience, energy and will. He can teach us a lot.

“It was probably simply that he really wanted to come to us. After a couple of meetings that we had, it was clear that he was incredibly dedicated to this task. We have a fairly young management staff, so we needed to bring in experience, and to say the least, we have.”

Among the squad Solano inherited from predecessor Jawad Al Jebouri is former Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur full-back Zeki Fryers, who was linked with a move to Newcastle during Alan Pardew’s time in charge of the Magpies.

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