Long-time TalkSPORT pundit and former international striker Tony Cascarino believes Steve Bruce should seriously consider his future as Newcastle United boss. Cascarino insists Bruce does not need to “suffer” anymore in the St. James’ Park hot seat. Bruce, a lifelong Newcastle United fan and a proud Geordie, described his appointment as the Magpies’ manager as one of the greatest honours of his football career to date. However, seven wins from 37 games have seen the fans quickly turn on him.
Some believe that the anger of supporters towards Bruce should be directed at Newcastle’s controversial owner Mike Ashley, who has made no bones about his intentions to sell the club and limit his ongoing investment into the playing staff. Bruce has had very little to work with in terms of recruitment, with Joe Willock the only sizeable signing this summer from Arsenal. The first XI is heavily reliant on the form and fitness of striker Callum Wilson and wide man Allan Saint-Maximin, who transform the Magpies into a decent attacking threat on occasion.
It is at the back where Newcastle and Bruce have suffered most of late. Tom Love, who is a proven football tipster across Europe’s top leagues, revealed in a recent pre-game preview between Newcastle and Leeds that the Magpies had shipped a minimum of two goals in six of their last seven home league fixtures. Having to score three goals at home to win a match is no mean feat even for the Premier League’s best sides.
Bruce’s £3m payoff too rich for Ashley’s pockets
With just three points obtained from their opening seven Premier League games in 2021/22, the pressure is rising on Bruce, but reports suggest that Mike Ashley is not prepared to pay off Bruce’s contract whilst in negotiations to sell the club. A payoff that is said to be worth over £3 million. Cascarino says that Bruce is in a form of emotional jeopardy, with everyone in English football able to see “how much Newcastle means to him”. Nevertheless, Cascarino insists Bruce should know deep down that he “cannot win this battle” with the fans because “he’s associated with the owner”.
Cascarino fears there is “real strain” on Bruce individually but admits it’s “his life” and “not [his] decision” to make. It’s true that Bruce has not received the plaudits he arguably deserved for steering Newcastle into 12th place in the 2020/21 Premier League table last season. Although the Magpies finished a whopping ten points behind 11th-placed Aston Villa, United were still well clear of the drop zone going into the final rounds of the season. A fine run of three wins in their last four games ended the campaign in fine style, but any optimism for 2021/22 from the terraces subsided with Ashley still holding the reins on Tyneside.
Ashley is still holding onto hope that his protracted deal with PCP Capital Partners, agreed in April 2020, will eventually be ratified by the courts. The Premier League refused to ratify the deal involving the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, which proposed to acquire an 80% stake in the club. A preliminary CAT hearing occurred recently, with a formal arbitration slated for early January 2022, whereby Magpies fans could yet get their wish and the sale of the club.
Ashley is said to be steadfastly committed not only to the takeover with PCP Capital Partners, but his manager Steve Bruce. He is reported to only be considering dispensing of Bruce’s services if the Magpies become cut adrift in the relegation zone, which could put the Saudi takeover in jeopardy in any case. Ashley wants the club’s new prospective owners to decide on the long-term face at the managerial helm, with Bruce almost left in a form of caretaker charge in the interim.
There are plenty of matches to be played between now and January. By then, Newcastle could find themselves in a precarious position, resulting in the club’s value diminishing and even leaving PCP Capital Partners questioning their investment. There are plenty of ifs, buts and maybes on the table, but one thing is for certain, Steve Bruce is on a hiding to nothing.