Steve Bruce says Newcastle job ‘probably’ his last as abuse takes its toll

The 60-year-old was appointed as Rafael Benitez’s replacement in July 2019.
Steve Bruce says Newcastle job ‘probably’ his last as abuse takes its toll

By Damian Spellman, PA

Steve Bruce never felt wanted at Newcastle from the start and says he will “probably” turn his back on football management for good after revealing the extent of the abuse he received throughout his reign.

The 60-year-old Geordie parted ways with the Magpies on Wednesday after clinging on to what may be his last job against the odds for almost a fortnight following the Saudi-led takeover on October 7.

As he did so, he hit out at his detractors, who he believes never gave him a chance during his 25 months in charge.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, he said: “By the time I got to Newcastle, I thought I could handle everything thrown at me, but it has been very, very tough.

“To never really be wanted, to feel that people wanted me to fail, to read people constantly saying I would fail, that I was useless, a fat waste of space, a stupid, tactically inept cabbage head or whatever. And it was from day one.

“When we were doing OK results-wise, it was, ‘Yeah, but the style of football is rubbish’ or I was just ‘lucky’. It was ridiculous and persistent, even when the results were good.

“I tried to enjoy it and, you know, I did. I’ve always enjoyed the fight, proving people wrong, but that’s all it ever seemed to be. A fight, a battle. It does take its toll because even when you win a game, you don’t feel like you are winning over the supporters.”

Bruce also revealed the toll the experience had taken on him and his family, and in particular his wife Jan.

New Newcastle chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan (left) and Amanda Staveley in the crowd at St James' Park on Sunday
New Newcastle chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan (left) and Amanda Staveley in the crowd at St James’ Park on Sunday (Owen Humphreys/PA)

“It’s not just about me; it’s taken its toll on my whole family because they are all Geordies and I can’t ignore that,” he said.

“They have been worried about me, especially my wife Jan. What an amazing woman she is, incredible, she’s just a fantastic woman, wife and mother and grandmother. She dealt with the death of my parents, hers have not been very well. And then she had me to worry about and what I’ve been going through the last couple of years.

“I can’t take her for granted, she has spent her whole life following me around from football club to football club and if I was to say to her tomorrow, I’ve been offered a job in China, or anywhere, she would say, ‘Steve, is this right for you, do you want to do it?’ And she’d back me again.

“I’m 60 years old and I don’t know if I want to put her through it again. We’ve got a good life so, yeah, this will probably be me done as a manager – until I get a phone call from a chairman somewhere asking if I can give them a hand. Never say never, I’ve learnt that.”

Bruce’s departure was announced in a statement issued three days after his final game – his 1,000th as a manager – ended in a 3-2 Premier League defeat by Tottenham at St James’ Park during which non-executive chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan heard for himself concerted calls from large sections of the crowd for the former Manchester United defender to go.

The club statement on Wednesday read: “Newcastle United can confirm that Steve Bruce has left his position as head coach by mutual consent.

“He leaves the Magpies after more than two years in charge, having steered the club to 13th and 12th-place finishes in the Premier League and reaching the quarter-final stage in both the Emirates FA Cup and Carabao Cup during his tenure.

“Newcastle United would like to place on record its gratitude to Steve for his contribution and wishes him well for the future.”

Assistant Graeme Jones will take charge of the team for Saturday’s trip to Crystal Palace with the Magpies having won none of their opening eight league fixtures and sitting 19th in the table.

In the meantime, the consortium put together by Amanda Staveley will step up its efforts to land a replacement with former Roma boss Paulo Fonseca having leapt to the head of the bookmakers’ odds in the last 24 hours ahead of Lucien Favre, Eddie Howe and Steven Gerrard.

There was dismay on Tyneside when Steve Bruce was appointed as Rafael Benitez' successor
There was dismay on Tyneside when Steve Bruce was appointed as Rafael Benitez’s successor (Owen Humphreys/PA)

The statement continued: “Graeme Jones will lead the team on an interim basis, starting with Saturday’s trip to Crystal Palace, and will be supported by the coaching team of Steve Agnew, Stephen Clemence, Ben Dawson and Simon Smith.

“The process of recruiting a new head coach is under way and an appointment will be announced in due course. The club will not be making further comment at this time.”

Bruce was appointed, to the dismay of many supporters, as Rafael Benitez’s successor in July 2019 as then owner Mike Ashley looked for a safe pair of hands to keep the club in the top flight while he tried to sell it.

He vowed to win over his critics and asked them to judge him on his results. In all, he presided over 97 games and won just 28 of them, with the chorus of disapproval growing in volume as time passed.

 

Bruce said: “I am grateful to everyone connected with Newcastle United for the opportunity to manage this unique football club.

“I would like to thank my coaching team, the players and the support staff in particular for all their hard work. There have been highs and lows, but they have given everything even in difficult moments and should be proud of their efforts.

“This is a club with incredible support, and I hope the new owners can take it forward to where we all want it to be. I wish everyone the very best of luck for the rest of this season and beyond.”

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