Steve Bruce's blunt pledge to Newcastle United fans
Newcastle United’s players had got a lot of encouragement from the away end at the Keepmoat Stadium.
And Steve Bruce stood on the touchline long after the final whistle, was asked if he could give the club’s travelling fans any encouragement on the transfer front.
Newcastle fans, after all, are still waiting for the club to make a summer signing as other club’s strengthen ahead of the new Premier League campaign.
"The one thing I’m never going to do is b******* them,” said United’s head coach following the club’s 3-2 win over Doncaster Rovers.
Bruce went on to stress how “difficult” this summer’s market will be for the club, which has taken a big financial hit from the coronavirus pandemic.
“I think everybody knows how difficult it’s going to be,” said Bruce. “We haven’t got a lot of money. As managers, you always want players and money to go and improve the team, that’s our job. But I don’t think I’m alone, I’ve never known it so quiet. We still have to be patient. We really have to wait for the huge big clubs – and I hope people take that the right way – to see what they do.”
Bruce is waiting to see if Arsenal are prepared to loan out midfielder Joe Willock again, but United can’t afford to wait too much longer.
“There has to be a time where we know,” said Bruce. “Is it going to be yes or no?”
Newcastle need more than Willock just to stand still this season, but owner Mike Ashley, it seems, is unmoved as he pushes to resurrect a £300million sale to a consortium led by Amanda Staveley through legal action.
The club last week sold defender Florian Lejeune to “put a few quid in the coffers”, and more players could follow him out of the door.
“We’ve got to do better than that,” said Bruce. “That’s my job, to knock on the door, and make us better.”
However, Bruce – who was backed by Ashley last summer – is finding just how hard it can be for a Newcastle manager to get the funds that he feels he needs to take the club forward.
Bruce, unlike Rafa Benitez, hasn’t sought confrontation with Ashley.
Benitez, Bruce’s managerial predecessor, would crank up the pressure with his public statements before and during every transfer window, but that approach didn't work with Ashley.
Three years ago, Benitez delivered an explosive post-match press conference following a 4-0 defeat to Braga in Portugal.
“When things are not going well off the pitch, you can see a reflection on the pitch,” said Benitez, who left the club two years ago after failing to agree a new deal with Ashley. "They (the fans) have to be concerned. We’re concerned. They have to be concerned. We’re also concerned.”
Supporters, again, are concerned at a lack of progress in the transfer window – and Bruce needs to knock harder on the door.