Alan Shearer has taken part in a Q&A for The Athletic, discussing recent criticism of Steve Bruce, the relegation battle, our recruitment the summer Bruce arrived and the reason he advised him to reject Mike Ashley 18 months ago.
Our record goalscorer “understands” fans frustrations at yet another disappointing season, feeling Steve Bruce DOES warrant criticism for the position we find ourselves in.
Shearer recognises that we are now in the midst of a relegation fight – despite believing we’d be fine a few weeks ago before Fulham started picking up wins – and points towards the loss of star striker Callum Wilson through injury as a huge blow.
Speaking for The Athletic, here is what he said in response to Newcastle fans:
“It’s not particularly nice reading and hearing the criticism he’s getting, Kevin, but I understand it and it’s warranted.
“Why? Because Newcastle are fourth-bottom, three points above the relegation positions.
“True, we’ve lost our best player in Callum Wilson, but as I said about Liverpool, that can’t be an excuse.
“I didn’t think we were in a relegation battle until a couple of weeks ago, but Fulham have had a fantastic spell — you have to give them and Scotty Parker great credit — and Newcastle haven’t.
“This situation is precisely the reason I didn’t want Steve to take the job in the first place. It’s not impossible or impossible circumstances, but it’s very, very difficult.
“It’s a very difficult club, full stop. I’ve been there and done it, albeit for a limited time. I know how they operate and I didn’t want Steve to be part of it.
“Having said that, I took it all those years ago. I felt the pull. And so I can’t be a hypocrite and criticise him for wanting to have a go.
“When we speak, it’s never about tactics or about players or anything like that. I don’t think that would particularly help.
“I don’t even want to speak about that stuff with him.”
There was also criticism levelled towards our recruitment policy in recent seasons, with Shearer insisting that Bruce had “no input” over the signings made during his first summer in charge – suggesting Joelinton (£40m), Saint-Maximin (£20m), Willems (loan) and Krafth (£5m) were NOT his signings:
“In terms of changes that could be made now, it’s a problem.
“I don’t think the squad is full of answers.
“Steve had no input in the players signed by the club during his first summer window and I can’t for the life of me see what the strategy was.
“Signing Joelinton for £40 million and giving him the number nine shirt when he isn’t a centre-forward? What was the thinking there?”
Any Newcastle fan, regardless of being a friend of Bruce or not, should surely see that he is no longer the man to take us forward. In truth, he never has been.
Our run of form over the last 20 games or so would have seen him sacked at any other club, which begs the question, does Mike Ashley even care if we go down or not?
As for recruitment, I’m going to surprisingly disagree with Shearer here. I actually think that, Joelinton aside, the players we have brought in have been of quite a decent calibre.
Wilson, Fraser and Saint-Maximin is a dynamic attack more than capable of scoring goals in the top flight. Let’s not forget, Almiron was also signed just six months before Bruce arrived.
Joelinton has obviously been a dud and looks like the worst £40m Ashley ever spent, but a finer tune could be played by the current crop of players if we had somebody else sitting in the dugout.