Steve Bruce facing more tough questions at Newcastle United after fans have their say
Up to now, Steve Bruce has been unmoved.
Bruce again insisted last week that he would not walk away from the job when asked by the Gazette if his position had changed amid fan dissatisfaction with his performance as Newcastle United head coach – and his team’s performances and results on the pitch.
That dissatisfaction has manifested itself in repeated “we want Brucie out chants” this season. They have been heard home and away this season.
Bruce – who is understood to be safe in his position at the club despite a winless start to the season – was unequivocal in his answer to the question before last weekend’s game against Wolverhampton Wanderers.
"I keep getting asked the same question, and I keep telling you I’m not going to walk away from it,” said Bruce.
“I have quit before in circumstances to maybe get another job, but I’ve certainly not (decided) to quit now just because it’s a bit noisy, that’s for sure. It’s not even on the agenda.”
Asked about the backing he has had from the club’s hierarchy, Bruce added: “It certainly helps, but I can’t take that for granted.
"At the end of the day, we haven’t won a game yet. Whether you’re manager of Newcastle, or anybody in the Premier League, the word ‘under-pressure’ comes very, very quickly.
"That’s what we all face in this league. I’m not alone in that. Two, three, four points separate the bottom half of the division again. So we’re not alone in it.
"The reassurances I had really helped, certainly last year after Brighton if you remember … the club coming out and making that stance that my job is secure.
"I can’t take that for granted, that’s for sure. I’ll do my job as best as I can. I think we’ve played well of late.
"The performances have been decent. We’ve got to keep them levels, and, of course, win a match. Win a couple of matches if we can, and then the noise will quieten down a bit.”
There was more noise at Molineux, where Newcastle were beaten 2-1, and there was further noise this week from the Newcastle United Supporters Trust (NUST), which published the results of its annual survey – and a pulse survey conducted since the Wolves result, which left the club 19th in the Premier League with three points from seven games.
The results of the pulse survey were striking, if not surprising.
NUST asked members if they believed Bruce should result “in the best interests of Newcastle United”, and the result, from 5,000 responses in a 12-hour period, was 94.3% in favour of him resigning.
Members, which have pledged more than £160,000 towards a fan stake in United through the 1892 Pledge scheme, were also asked if the club would stay up. A resounding 94.3% said no.
Finally, NUST asked members were confident those in power at the club would make the necessary changes to ensure the club retained its Premier League status. In response, 95.9% said no.
“I was there at Wolves at the weekend, and there was plenty of discontent aimed at Steve Bruce, ” said NUST chair Greg Tomlinson. “There was (discontent) at Watford and other games too. It’s clear that the fans are unhappy, and it’s reflected in the survey results.”
NUST will now put the results to the club, which last hosted a Fans Forum more than three years ago.
“We’ll see how they respond,” said Tomlinson. “They’ve made it clear that he’s not in any trouble, so to speak, but the main concern of our members is that nobody’s standing up for them.
“It’s looking terrible on the pitch. Relegation could be catastrophic. It could mean the end of any potential takeover. We’ll put it to the club, and will see what comes from there.
“We have dialogue (with the club). We would say it needs to be better, more regular, and more meaningful.
“We talk to other Premier League club groups, and almost all of them, apart from Newcastle and West Ham, communicate very well with their supporters trusts."
The survey results, which have been covered by the national media, will also be put to Bruce next week ahead of the October 17 home game against Tottenham Hotspur.
So Bruce will again be asked if he will walk away from the job he took two years ago following the departure of Rafa Benitez.
Benitez didn’t sign a new contract as he didn’t feel that he could take the club forward with the backing on offer from owner Mike Ashley, who’s attempting to resurrect a proposed £300million sale to an ambitious consortium which includes Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.
Fans don’t believe that Bruce, on a rolling deal at United which doesn’t expire at the end of the season, can take the club he supported growing up in Wallsend forward.
And some of the 60-year-old’s recent public statements have riled an already-disillusioned fanbase.
“I think the problem we have there with how Steve Bruce talks to the press is that he belittles the club time and again and doesn’t realise he’s doing it,” said Tomlinson.
"He doesn’t talk very often with any hope or passion if you think about how our previous manager always talked about striving to get better and challenge. There’s none of that, and that really riles up Newcastle fans. That hasn’t helped.”
Bruce will most likely give the same answer on his future when he’s asked about NUST’s survey.
But unless there’s a dramatic change in fortunes on the pitch, then the noise from the stands will only increase in volume.
Newcastle have been unconvincing on the pitch so far this season, and most supporters, it’s clear from NUST’s surveys, are convinced that there needs to be a managerial change.