Sheffield Wednesday boss Steve Bruce was confronted on the pitch by an angry fan during their pre-season game at Lincoln City.
Bruce, 58, was quickly installed as the bookmakers favourite to replace Benitez, who left St James’ Park when his contract expired on June 30.
Newcastle are still trying to strike a deal with Wednesday, who want a significant compensation fee, and the situation turned ugly as Bruce oversaw the Owls’ 3-1 victory at Lincoln on Saturday.
A supporter ran up to Bruce’s face during the game and shouted at him, however the fan was booed by the away end, who chanted ‘Steve Bruce’s Barmy Army’.
After the match Bruce told the Sheffield Star: “Speculation is speculation. It’s in the hands of the club.
“For me, at this particular moment, there is nothing really to talk about until the two clubs reach some sort of compromise.
“Look, it has happened so quickly that I have got to take stock of the situation.
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“It’s in the hands of both clubs and we will see what develops over the next 24 to 48 hours.”
Newcastle want to appoint Bruce as their new manager as soon as possible with the start of the new Premier League season just a month away.
It is understood the two clubs spent Thursday attempting to reach an agreement over compensation with Bruce having indicated he wanted to talk to the club he supported as a boy.
The Magpies are due to depart for the Premier League Asia Trophy in China on Saturday.
News of Bruce’s impending arrival has been met with a distinctly mixed response on Tyneside, with fans still angry at Benitez’s exit less than impressed at his candidacy and the fact that the club had already been rejected by former boss Sam Allardyce.
Bruce has won promotion to the Premier League on four occasions during a managerial career which has taken him from Sheffield United to Huddersfield, Crystal Palace, Birmingham, Wigan, Sunderland, Hull and Aston Villa.
Bruce replaced Dutchman Jos Luhukay as Owls boss in January, three months after the former had been sacked by Villa.