This is what Mike Ashley needs to understand about Newcastle United under Steve Bruce
A change was surely better than no change.
Newcastle United, a month ago, were going the wrong way with Steve Bruce in charge.
And there were renewed calls from fans for Bruce to be dismissed after last month’s shocking 3-0 defeat to Brighton and Hove Albion.
Bruce’s position looked be untenable after that loss.
Owner Mike Ashley, however, was unmoved by those calls. Bruce was going nowhere, despite an awful run of results which had seemingly jeopardised both the club’s top-flight status and the prospect of a takeover.
Had a new manager come in, a return of two wins and two draws from the next four games would have been seen as a very good return.
Yet Newcastle have taken eight points from this month’s Premier league fixtures, and the club is nine points above the relegation zone ahead of Sunday’s home game against Arsenal. Bruce, what’s more, is a candidate for this month’s Premier League Manage of the Month award.
So Bruce and his players deserve credit for this month’s results, though some credit for the club’s head coach is still in short supply on Tyneside.
A change in system worked, as did the return of Allan Saint-Maximin and Callum Wilson from their respective injuries. January signing Joe Willock, however, has helped more than anyone, having come off the bench and scored in three of those games.
A new manager will have done very well to match the results this month, but, importantly, the buck stopped with Bruce for the results which had left the club in such a perilous position in late March.
Maybe, under different management, the team might not have been facing relegation in the first place. This club should not have been hovering above the drop zone, even factoring in the injuries and Covid-19 outbreak that Bruce has had to contend with this season.
Newcastle should have been pushing for a top-10 finish following the acquisition of Wilson last summer, yet by Christmas, depressingly, it was all about survival.
The upturn in results is welcome, of course, but staying up alone is nothing to celebrate. Should Bruce keep the club up, he will have delivered for Ashley, who is reportedly considering handing him a new deal in the summer. Fans, however, feel this squad is capable of much, much more.