Steve Bruce reacts to home support after returning Newcastle United fans chant his name
Frustrated Newcastle United fans had rounded on the Premier League, Mike Ashley and Steve Bruce earlier in the club’s pre-season campaign.
Supporters, unhappy with at a lengthy delay to takeover arbitration and a lack of summer investment from owner Ashley, vented their anger during a 1-1 draw to Rotherham United last month.
The club still hasn’t signed a player this summer, and Bruce, booed on the team’s lap of appreciation following last season’s final home game, will surely have wondered what kind of reception he would get at St James’s Park given the mood among fans on Tyneside.
A crowd of 20,139 saw Newcastle beat newly-promoted Norwich City 3-0 ahead of next weekend’s Premier League season-opener against West Ham United as the stadium’s turnstiles opened for only the second time since February 29 last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
There were more anti-Ashley chants, but none against Bruce. Instead, there was a chant of “Brucie, give us a wave” from the Strawberry corner of the ground.
Asked about return of fans – and the chant – Bruce said: “First of all, it’s great to see (fans back inside St James’s Park),” said Bruce.
“I know what it means to them to go and watch the club, and how good it was to see them enjoy (the game), and especially the second half. They’ll have enjoyed it, as they’ve missed the Premier League so much.
“So it was good to see them all. Obviously, we’ll make sure next week there’ll be even more in the stadium.
"It’s great. It’s what it’s all about. It’s what makes the club unique.”
The introduction of Allan Saint-Maximin, Ryan Fraser and Jonjo Shelvey after the break turned the game, which had been goalless after the first 45 minutes.
Dwight Gayle, another substitute, scored twice, and Matt Ritchie also found the net.
“We were certainly better in the second half,” Bruce told BBC Radio Newcastle.
“Jonjo Shelvey gave us a bit more control of the ball. I was delighted with the defending, the goalkeeper (Freddie Woodman) looked assured, and everybody who came on to the pitch knew the way we were going to play.”