CRAIG HOPE: Newcastle’s new owners know that the presence of Steve Bruce in the dugout on Sunday could sour the celebration of a new era… so, why is the under-fire boss still in charge?
- It was anticipated that Newcastle boss Steve Bruce would lose his job this week
- However, Bruce is set to speak to the media on Friday ahead of his 1,000th game
- Players are confused, it is said, and want clarity – many of them want a change
- How can Bruce be the man the new regime presents to the watching world on Sunday when we are led to believe he has no part in their plans?
Steve Bruce would be sacked this week, we were told. Newcastle United’s new owners had realised how his presence could have a negative impact during their first game at home to Spurs on Sunday.
Sources say that opinion has not changed. Yet here we are and Bruce remains, even scheduled to speak to the media on Friday afternoon.
Players are confused, it is said, and want clarity. Many of them want a change of manager but, more so, they want to win their first match of the season. If Bruce is going to be in charge then they should know, allowing for greater focus.
Steve Bruce would be sacked this week we were told – yet for now he remains in charge
Newcastle fans had hoped that Amanda Staveley (pictured right) and the Saudi-led consortium would be more decisive in what ranks as their No 1 priority right now
The club’s followers had hoped that Amanda Staveley and the Saudi-led consortium would be more decisive in what ranks as their No 1 priority right now.
Fans want Sunday to be the celebration of a new era. It still will be, nothing will detract from the scenes anticipated ahead of kick-off.
But they also want to venture to St James’ Park free of feelings of animosity and resentment towards those in positions of seniority at their club. The prospect of Bruce being on the touchline, therefore, is a troubling one for supporters.
It is not that they will boo him from the off – as they have done in some matches this season – but if Newcastle find themselves behind, there is a danger the crowd will turn on Bruce.
They will be loath to do so, because Sunday, for them, is not about vitriol. They want to show the world what a united and re-energised support sounds like. But with Bruce there, one or two notes might sound a little flatter than they should be.
If Newcastle find themselves behind, there is a real danger the crowd will turn on Bruce
Their motivation in calling for the head coach to go in recent months has been a belief that the team would fare better for his removal. He is a cause of division, be that with the fanbase, media or even some within his own dressing-room.
The new owners – certainly those on the ground on Tyneside this past week – are fully aware of the strength of feeling against Bruce. One senior figure inside the club, we understand, has also warned of the need to make an immediate change.
Everyone, it seems, is on the same page. Even Bruce himself went on the record in saying he as good as anticipates the sack.
But for it not to happen by now has dampened the mood. It will be awkward and unnecessary if, come 1.30pm on Friday, it is Bruce facing the questions. This press conference was always going to be about the future. We never imagined it would be Bruce’s future the talking point.
Jonjo Shelvey, in an interview with Sportsmail on Wednesday, remains the only figure from within the club to have spoken about the excitement and possibilities that the takeover brings. That should have marked the start of a week of positivity and the building of momentum.
It will be awkward and unnecessary if, come 1.30pm on Friday, it is Bruce facing the questions
For how can Bruce be the man the new regime presents to the watching world when we are led to believe he has no part in their plans? It feels wrong.
Maybe, in time, we will come to reflect and wonder what all of the fuss was about.
There is every chance that a wave of euphoria will carry Newcastle to victory against Spurs, regardless of whether it’s Steve Bruce or Fiona Bruce in the dugout.
It is just that, much like those relics on Fiona’s Antiques Roadshow, the Toon Army had hoped Steve would be a thing of the past.