Steve Bruce compares his Newcastle United record with that of 'mighty' Rafa Benitez

Steve Bruce compared his record at Newcastle United to Rafa Benitez’s when asked if a manager could succeed at the club under Mike Ashley.

Bruce’s side is 15th in the Premier League, and without a win in nine games in all competitions, ahead of tonight’s game against Aston Villa at Villa Park.

The club, which fans had hoped would be pushing for a top-10 place this season following last season’s 13th-placed finish, has been sucked into a relegation battle.

And Bruce, again, is under pressure at the club from a fanbase which wants more ambition at managerial and boardroom level.

Benitez, Bruce’s predecessor at St James’s Park, guided the club to 10th and 13th-placed finishes before leaving in the summer of 2019 following a series of stand-offs with Ashley over investment.

Asked if a manager could succeed at Newcastle so long as Ashley remains owner, head coach Bruce said: “I would ask the question ‘what do you gauge as success?’.

"I gauge success last year as matching Rafa’s tally of points, of where we finished, because that’s where we are at this particular moment.

"We’re in the bottom half of the Premier League, and have been there for the best part of 15 years.

Steve Bruce.

"What’s realistic for where we are? In between 11th and 16th, is that realistic? Can we aim towards the top 10? We’re three, four points adrift of that. Would that be an achievement? In my eyes, probably yes. We are where we are.

"We will try to keep edging towards where I want to take us, which is probably towards the top 10. I’ve said that since I walked through the door.

“At this particular moment, we’re four, five points off it, and we’re on a bad run. It’s time to keep working hard and hope things change.

“Rafa, who I have obviously heard a lot of and have the hugest respect for, like all you have, where did he finish? He was a world-class manager. Where did he finish? Is that success?

“We matched the mighty Rafa last year. We will try to do the best we can again this year.”

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