Mike Ashley made a rare appearance in Newcastle’s final day clash at Fulham – a game that featured a record equalling goal for Joe Willock and a 2-0 win that saw us finish the season in 12th.
Inevitably, both Willock and Bruce were asked if the Arsenal loanee would be returning to Tyneside on a permanent deal this summer. Neither gave too much away, but you can only hope Ashley is more tempted to sanction a sizeable summer bid now he’s seen what he’s capable of in person!
After revealing that he was ‘honoured’ to have matched Alan Shearer’s record record of SEVEN goals in seven consecutive games – also revealing that he’s received the odd text from Big Al – Willock said “we’ll see” when asked if he could return next season.
Bruce also has a message for the boo-boy after the game, saying his critics should be ‘eat some ‘humble pie’ after we ended up finishing 12th and 17 points clear of third bottom Fulham following five wins in our final eight games.
He also insisted that the club will its ‘utmost’ to keep Willock at the club ahead of his return to Arsenal in the coming weeks.
Here’s everything they had to say when speaking to the BBC after today’s 2-0 win at Craven Cottage:
Willock on matching Shearer’s record and his future at the club:
“To be in his company, I’m honoured.
“And that it’s happened for this wonderful club.
“He has often messaged me to congratulate me and I’m sure he’ll be happy for me.”
“When we were going through our tough period, we said we would stick together and we’ve done that really well.”
“We’ll see what the future holds.
“I’m blessed to have had the opportunity to play for this wonderful club.
“I’m happy it’s gone so well.”
Bruce on finishing 12th after a final day win at Fulham:
“We’ll never say it’s an achievement to finish 12th for a club of our stature, but it’s an achievement.
“I hope the people who have written us off, they’ll eat humble pie and give us some credit.”
Bruce on Willock’s goal and a potential permanent deal:
“I couldn’t be more pleased for him.
“He’s done so well.
“We’ll try our utmost to keep him but we must respect that he’s Arsenal’s player.”
Staying up is a huge relief – I thought we were down after that battering at Brighton – and our form over the past eight weeks has been outstanding, but Bruce would be wise to realise that 12th should not be celebrated when he and the players named a top 10 finish as our target in pre-season.
Nevertheless, it’s great to see us end a tough season on a high and moving up the 12th after all results went our way on the final day.
As for Willock, if Ashley can sanction a £40m move for Joelinton, I’d like to think he’d push the green light on a big money bid for a young, hungry and free-scoring midfielder who would get bums on seats at St James’ Park next season.