Steve Bruce sidesteps the big issue at Newcastle United ahead of Premier League restart
For the first time in 105 days, Steve Bruce took his seat for a press conference.
The room, however, wasn’t full of journalists. Instead, Bruce sat in front of a camera to deliver his first pre-match Zoom press conference.
So much has happened off the pitch since Bruce spoke to the media in March, when the coronavirus was quietly spreading across the country.
And there was a lot on the agenda ahead of Newcastle United’s game against Sheffield United on Sunday.
Bruce, of course, was asked about the behind-closed-doors restart and the clutch of out-of-contract players at the club.
The biggest footballing story on Tyneside in recent weeks hasn’t been the restart. The main talking point among fans has been the proposed £300million takeover of the club, which has been with the Premier League since April.
A cautious Bruce – who knows his own position will again come under scrutiny should the takeover be given the go-ahead – wouldn’t get drawn on the prospect of new ownership ahead of the restart.
“There’s obviously something rumbling along, and we’re all aware of it, but let’s just focus ourselves on the game on Sunday, the game on Wednesday, and the cup tie (against Manchester City) the following weekend,” said United’s head coach. “Let’s not make it a distraction or an excuse.
“The only thing I can focus on really is making sure my staff (are happy), and the preparation of the players is in place. We can’t influence anything that’s happening above us at boardroom level.”
Then there was the issue of Matty Longtaff’s contractual situation, with the 20-year-old’s deal set to expire this summer. Talks stalled months ago, and a new offer hasn’t broken the deadlock.
“We hope we can resolve something,” said Bruce. “There’s still dialogue between the respective parties. The club want him to stay. We’ve made him a really good offer, the kid, and let’s hope we can get it over the line.
Bruce also revealed that all out of contract players had “verbally agreed” to stay on until the end of the season – and there were also talks over new deals for Andy Carroll and Javier Manquillo.
But will Bruce be back next season?