Miles Starforth's China tour diary: The dressing room view on Steve Bruce
Some like it hot, but it’s just too hot in Shanghai today.
Had yesterday’s Premier League Asia Trophy third-place game been played today, the players would have taken to the field in 33-degree heat. It was even hotter earlier in the day. It’s intense and stifling.
Newcastle United’s squad will head home tonight after just over a week in China.
The club was managerless when the players arrived, but the team is now led by Steve Bruce, who faces a cooler reception back on Tyneside. The 58-year-old knows this. He’s not Rafa Benitez. And he’s not a Champions League winner.
“I can’t take that personally – the only thing that can improve it is results,” said the boyhood United fan.
And that’s how every manager should be judged. Bruce, however, has a squad that looks short in several places, and he desperately needs more Premier League quality. He inherited a committed, hard-working group of players, but Salomon Rondon and Ayoze Perez, last season’s two leading scorers, need replacing, and that’s just for starters.
Bruce will have a lot to think about on the long flight back to England, but the players – and this may come as a surprise to some fans – are keen to play for him. That’s a good start.
“Just judge me over the period of time,” said Bruce at the team’s Shanghai hotel. “I'm quietly confident, after nearly 400 games in the Premier League, that I will do OK.”
Only time will tell.