The legendary John Gibson feels that Ashley is rewarding Bruce for not being ‘aggressive’ like Benitez – and I think he’s probably bang on.
Here’s what he’s had to say in his latest piece for The Chronicle:
“I think the loyalty that’s been rewarded by Mike Ashley is that Steve Bruce has not agitated, been aggressive or been on the phone regularly to his owner to put things right at St. James’ Park.”
“That was the mistake in Ashley’s eyes that Benitez made – he didn’t walk quietly into the sunset instead he kicked along the way against the traces. Steve Bruce hasn’t done that – and doesn’t do that. He hasn’t given any problems whatsoever to Mike Ashley, and the owner likes that.”
Essentially, he’s saying that Bruce has been a yes sir, no sir three bags full sir man and willing to keep the peace and quiet to ensure that he keeps his job. Ashley undoubtedly likes that and especially not being called out in public and being bothered about a Club he cares little for.
Bruce won’t out him in pressers, demand more than he’s offering on transfers or kick up a fuss if investment isn’t made available for training ground improvements. He’s just grateful to be here and happy to settle – not push on like the man he replaced was.
It’s a big statement to say Ashley doesn’t care for an asset that is very pricey but not sacking Bruce and to allow the dismal football and spectacularly bad results to continue leaves me with little choice.
Perhaps it’s time to give Bruce some credit even if it’s a little sarcastic. By opting his approach then he’s clever enough to know as long as he keeps the team in The Premier League he’ll have a job.
Would that include next season given the toxicity the Toon fans feel towards Bruce? Well, that depends on two things or perhaps three. Firstly, the rapidly reducing possibility that we avoid relegation. Then, if we do, Bruce not walking in the summer with a pay-off.
If the first two are achieved then the third would be the level of support Bruce is given in the transfer market and let’s face it, is a leopard going to change its spots after 14 years of turgid purgatory? I think not.
Now some might say that Gibson may not be right. However, I for one would rather believe him and back him. He’s been around NUFC for over 50 years. He’s been on the inside and on the outside. He does tend to have a finger on the pulse.
Plus, let’s face it. How can Ashley justify any other reason for keeping Bruce on? At the end of the day whatever he thinks it’s his Club and he’s the main man. By keeping servant Bruce on that’s as big an indication of that without doubt.