Is Mike Ashley about to make his biggest mistake yet at Newcastle United?
Does Steve Bruce have any idea what he would talk into at Newcastle United?
Does he really?
Bruce, it’s been reported, is now the club’s No1 managerial target following the departure of manager Rafa Benitez on June 30.
From Benitez to Bruce. You couldn’t make it up, you really couldn’t.
Mike Ashley, Newcastle’s owner, wouldn’t give Benitez the freedom he wanted in the transfer market this summer, despite everything the 58-year-old had done for the club. Yes, Benitez, on £6million a year, was paid well, but Ashley’s decision to appoint the Champions League-winning manager paid off, handsomely.
Yet the billionaire was seemingly so inflexible that he lost someone who added so much value to the club.
I’ve got nothing against Corbridge-born Bruce, an affable man with an abundance of managerial experience and a cabinet full of medals from a glittering playing career. But is he right for the Premier League in 2019?
That, for me, is the question. Surely Lee Charnley, United’s managing director, and Ashley’s close advisers, notably Justin Barnes and Keith Bishop, know the answer.
Bruce, should he take the job, will walk into a toxic atmosphere on Tyneside. His appointment won’t calm a fanbase, angered by years of under-investment and the departure of Benitez, which is talking about boycotting Newcastle’s season-opener against Arsenal on August 11.
And what about a takeover? Surely if a takeover was close, then Ashley and Charnley wouldn’t yet be making an appointment. Would Bruce get a short-term contract? Or is this a longer-term appointment?
Is doubtful whether the club’s next manager, whoever that may be, will have the same influence on transfers as Benitez, who had the final say on every incoming and outgoing. United’s transfer business, for now, is in the hands of Steve Nickson, the club’s head of recruitment.
Bruce, through his family in the North East, should have a fairly good idea of the mood on Tyneside.
That sad, I wouldn’t blame the boyhood Newcastle fan for taking the job. However, I would question the decision making at St James’s Park.