The 'insult' that angered Steve Bruce at Newcastle United is all but forgotten now

Steve Bruce felt insulted. He’d just been appointed as Rafa Benitez’s successor at Newcastle United, and he was facing the media for the first time in Shanghai, China.
Steve Bruce.Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.

Bruce wanted to set something straight. The club’s new head coach angrily denied claims that he would be owner Mike Ashley’s “puppet” – and insisted that he would have the final say on transfers.

Recruitment, yes, that’s insulted me, the things that have been said,” said Bruce. “Let me tell you, if I thought I couldn’t have control of transfers, then I wouldn’t be doing it. I wouldn’t do it at all.

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“You have to rely on your recruitment team, but you have to have the final say on who you’re going to bring in.”

Fans, however, were understandably sceptical given that managers haven’t always had control of signings. Last summer’s recruitment had its critics – Bruce had to repeatedly defend £40million club-record signing Joelinton, a player who had been identified long before he took charge – and he again faced criticism in January after opting not to make a permanent signing.

But that controversial decision has seemingly paid off – six months later.

The coronavirus pandemic has taken a toll on the finances of Premier League clubs, but United, with money set aside from January, have been able to tackle the transfer window.

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Newcastle’s pre-season campaign has been underwhelming, but the signing of Wilson has lifted some of the gloom which settled on the club following the decision of Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund to withdraw their takeover bid.

The signing of Wilson, certainly, is timely given the loss of Dwight Gayle to a long-term injury.

Bruce wanted Premier League experience – and he’s getting that. He arrived too late to have a big say in last summer’s transfer window – but these signings are his.

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Lee Charnley, the club’s managing director, has delivered off the field with Ashley’s blessing – and now it’s up to Bruce and his players to deliver.

St James's Park.St James's Park.
St James's Park.

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