Why Steve Bruce was right to take Newcastle

Published: Thursday, 18 July 2019
My goodness. There are some angry people in the world. Not just angry - plain rude as well. Experts in everything  who actually know nothing about the subject they’re mouthing  off about. I refer to my private life. I will not dignify the scandalous bullying and character assassination by commenting beyond saying I am a father and husband that gave everything and more to his family. Not once did I come up short. Ever.
Now. Let’s get round to the original reason for breaking my summer holiday promise that I wouldn’t blog again until the season started - Steve Bruce. Good on you Brucey. It takes a ‘man’ to step into the chaos and abuse you’re now getting - simply for fulfilling a lifetimes ambition. After previously saying ‘no’ - he’s now got the job he grew up dreaming of. Just like Bobby Robson. Do you all remember when Bob took it - at a time when Newcastle were owned by another vilified owner - the late Freddy Shepherd? Remember him? Poor fella. He got pelters for doing his best at St James’ Park. Some people have got very short memories eh? I remember saying when Mike Ashley ripped the club from beneath his hospital bed that some time soon Newcastle fans would look back on the ‘Shepherd Years’ with affection. Guess what? Yep. I got hammered then as well.
Bruce is the right man for the job now. He knows the club. He knows what the supporters want. They want to be entertained and have fun when they watch their team play. Oh for Keegan’s wonderful entertainers.
I’m not suggesting that there aren’t issues at Newcastle. Of course there are - but back a man like Mike Ashley into a corner and you’re only making things worse. Benitez did that - and played poker with a poor hand.
None of us wants to be beaten up Ashley constantly is. I’m equally sure he meant it a couple of years ago when he said he wasn’t going anywhere until Newcastle won something. Fingers crossed if you’re a Newcastle fan - Brucey might just make that happen!
‘Sell it’ Geordie fans scream. That club has been for sale for 5 years. The question is ‘why won’t it sell’? Is it because it’s toxic? I refer again to the late Freddy Shepherd. He couldn’t escape brutal criticism - even when he went deeply into personal debt to fund the club. Nor could Sir John Hall. And he gave the Geordies their club back - and Keegan. I ask you - what’s the ‘up’ side to owning Newcastle? I’m sorry - but it’s true.
Bruce is apparently a ‘dinosaur’. Funny that. We used to call a guy like him ‘experienced’. All his life he’s been working toward this. There have been highs and lows in his career.  On the upside - 4 promotions with bang ordinary teams. He gave Wigan their highest ever PL finish. He was the last man to finish in the top 10 with Sunderland, before being sacked because he couldn’t deny his heart really lay at St James’. He’s managed in a mad house at Hull. He laid the foundations for Villa to go up last season - and that’s in no way a slight on Dean Smith. Dean did a fantastic job to get it over the line. No, Bruce has a vast library of experiences to call on in a situation like this.
He was apparently little more than 11th choice for the job. Nonsense. That story came from China via a Spanish football ‘expert’. A British broadcaster ran with it - newspapers repeated it. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Sloppy lazy journalism. When I started in this line of work my first editor told me ‘check - check it again. And then check it again’. No-one could’ve checked that fairy tale.
I’ve tweeted on the subject of Benitez. I’ve blogged. I’ve said he deserved great credit for staying and getting them back after relegation - but he did have the biggest budget in the C’ship and being able to sign 18 players helped. 18 players for £102m. Fact Rafa. Chris Hughton did the same job on relatively buttons.
Which brings me to Alan Shearer’s comments saying he told Bruce not to take it. Why? They spent most of the summer together. Alan knew how it was all unfolding. Why not back his mate publicly and get Geordies on his side? I know Alan has issues with Ashley. The owner was wrong to turn Shearer’s bar into the ‘No 9’ bar. Alan is a legend at St James’ - but he forgive Ashley for turfing him out after he took them down. I remember the time well. I remember my little mate Ray Wilkins telling me after Chelsea had played them - in Alan’s first game I think - ‘Keysie, he’ll suffocate them. It won’t work’. How right was he? I must say Alan’s strange choice of assistant didn’t help. Iain Dowie didn’t do him any favours - certainly not the night I sat with him having dinner in Newcastle and he told me ‘it’s not my team yet’. ‘Yet’? Ffs. I’ll never forget that. Not quite the No2 you want covering your backside eh?
At the start of the following season Alan was in turmoil because he couldn’t nail the job. It was obviously a money issue. I called and said ‘Do it for nothing. You don’t need the money. Tell Ashley to pay you at the end of the season when you’ve got them up. You’ll cement your legendary status in concrete. He can’t turn an offer like that down’. Chris Hughton got the job. Come on Al. Give Brucey your public backing. At the end of the day - it’s Newcastle. It’s not Ashley.
Ashley will eventually leave. There been at least two bidders in the data room all summer - but still no resolution. Let’s hope for all our sakes there is soon, but if Newcastle fans want an example of bad owners look at Bolton. At Coventry. At Bury. At Blackpool. I could go on.
Newcastle are a PL team. Of course they could go down - but I don’t believe they will. If Bruce has got a deal like his predecessors then his bonuses will click in if he finishes 10th or better. Is that why Rafa always tossed off the Cup competitions? Steve Bruce is a proud Geordie. Managing Newcastle won’t mean as much to anyone else working in the game. My message to him would be ‘Good luck - and now go and win something’. Brucey knows better than anyone that it’s time someone did that at St James’ Park.