The biggest loss at Newcastle United this summer is NOT Rafa Benitez

The hard part comes next.

By Miles Starforth
Tuesday, 16 July, 2019, 05:00
Steve Bruce.

Steve Bruce has attempted to force a move to Newcastle United by offering to resign from his post at Sheffield Wednesday, and his appointment should be finalised this week while the club competes in the Premier League Asia Trophy.

Newcastle, it’s reported, are prepared to pay £4million in compensation to the Championship club to secure Bruce and his backroom team.

That’s a remarkable sum for a manager with a record of 110 wins from 392 Premier League games. What’s also remarkable is that Mike Ashley, United’s owner, is prepared to pay for a manager. The fact that he’s doing so also suggests that the club, up for sale since October 2017, is not close to being taken over.

Sure, there’ll be a saving in salary – Bruce won’t get anywhere near the £6million predecessor Rafa Benitez was paid – but it’s still extraordinary, if correct.

However, it will only get harder for Bruce once he moves to United, his boyhood club. It was always going to be hard for whoever followed Benitez, who left St James’s Park on June 30 when his contract expired. Bruce, though, will find it harder given the antipathy felt on Tyneside towards his appointment.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Even before news of Newcastle’s interest in him broke, there was a planned boycott of the season-opener against Arsenal. The club yesterday also put season-tickets on general sale after some fans decided against renewing in protest at Ashley.

Rafa Benitez.

Bruce, let’s be clear, will walk into a toxic situation, and fans won’t be patient with him like they were with Benitez last season when the team failed to win any of its first 10 league games. They won’t trust the process like they did with Benitez. Bruce needs wins.

Newcastle beat Fulham 4-0 with ease on the final day of last season. It was a glimpse into what might have been. Since then, the club has lost Benitez and Ayoze Perez. Salomon Rondon, loaned to United last season, is also about to join Benitez at Dalian Yifang.

Benitez, Perez and Rondon are big losses. But the biggest loss of all is those fans who will stay away this season.