Newcastle United fans are enduring one of the worst summers in recent memory. They’re still reeling from the loss of Rafa Benitez, takeover talks seem to have stalled and they’re the only Premier League club not to do any business in the transfer window. To add insult to injury, it’s looking more and more likely the new manager will be none other than former Sunderland boss Steve Bruce.
The man dubbed “the plastic Geordie” by the woman on the bus next to me today would be an appointment that once more highlights the ineptitude and lack of ambition among United’s hierarchy. Bruce, although a Geordie at birth, is not considered “one of our own” in the North East – far from it in fact.
Despite that, and even despite the fact he was Sunderland manager for quite a while, he is simply not a good enough manager. He’s spent the last few years languishing in the Championship, bumbling along not really offering all that much. After failing to get a strong Aston Villa side promoted twice, he moved on and joined a bang average Sheffield Wednesday side. To be fair, he managed a 38.9% win rate and only registered three losses in 18 games in Sheffield – a city where he has managed both sides.
He has a history of crossing divides actually. He’s managed both Sheffield clubs, he’s managed both Birmingham City and Aston Villa, now it looks as though he will add Newcastle to his CV having managed Sunderland in the past.
When you lose a world class manager like Rafael Benitez, it’s very hard to then look towards someone so average as Steve Bruce. Newcastle United are in a very tough position at the moment – the fans are in total rebellion mode as they plan boycotts and protests galore. What the club need to do with their managerial choice is appoint someone as high profile as they possibly can. Someone who will have a shot at bringing the fans back onside either with their play style or attitude towards the game. However, it seems they’ve decided to stay true to who they are and opt for the cheap option.
It’s reported that Rafa was earning £6million per season as manager of NUFC – a hefty salary, but a necessary one nonetheless. Bruce, on the other hand, would demand a salary less than half that. As well as that, it’s reported that he gets on well with the NUFC hierarchy and is more than happy to work under the medieval structure Newcastle still employ.
This appointment harks back to when Ashley placed the likes of Joe Kinnear, Alan Pardew, Steve McClaren etc at the helm. It’s someone the club can manipulate, someone who they know won’t ask for too much from them, someone who shares their lack of ambition for the club.
Ashley is very happy just bumbling along in the Premier League collecting his £120million television money at the end of the season. The problem is, with the poor squad available for the new manager, anyone less than the level of Benitez will struggle to keep them up. With Perez having already left and Rondon having been allowed to leave following his loan spell, the Magpies need to sign two big name players just to get back to where they were at last season.
To have any chance at staying in the league next season, in a division where every single team have spent money already, they’re going to have to spend somewhere near £80-100million after they appoint a manager.
It’s a sorry state of affairs at St James’ Park and a Steve Bruce appointment will only make things worse. The club is once more showing it’s utter contempt for the fans as well as it’s sheer lack of ambition. The job at the moment is somewhat of a poisoned chalice but the message that I’m picking up from other Newcastle fans is simply, “Please – anyone but him!”