Speaking to The Telegraph’s Luke Edwards, Steve Bruce has revealed all about his ‘tough’ time on Tyneside, admitting this is likely to be his last job in football.
This comes after the 60-year-old was sacked by the new owners at Newcastle United earlier today, ending his two and a half year stint at St James’ Park.
He may have arrived with Sunderland links – which featured an infamous quote claiming it was “never” dream to manage Newcastle United – however it was ultimately his atrocious win record, lack of visible tactics and baffling comments (before and after games) that immediately caused problems.
Here’s what he had to say during an in-depth chat with Luke Edwards, starting with the impact the job has had on himself and his family:
“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.
“They have been worried about me… especially my wife Jan.
“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 then explained why he felt equipped to take on the Newcastle United job, but admits it was “very, very tough” and, according to him, a battle he could never win:
“I really have to thank all the people who have worked alongside me, because I can be demanding and I can be hard work – especially when I was younger,”
“When we get beat, I get very low, but when you are managing in the Premier League with Birmingham, Wigan, Hull, Sunderland you do get better at dealing with it. You have to.
“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.
“The best one was to be told we were a relegation team in all but points…this was all in the first season. We finished 13th. It [the criticism and abuse] got even worse in the second year. We finished 12th, 17 points clear of the bottom three.
“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.”
We didn’t want him to fail, it just became increasingly clear we were only heading in one direction with him in charge – even if he did keep us up in his first two seasons.
Bruce insists he was never looking to quit – even when times got tough – saying he was ‘proud’ to be in the job and determined to keep us up so a Saudi-backed takeover could go through:
“I wanted so badly to make it work,”
“I was so proud to be manager of Newcastle United, even in the dark times, I was determined to keep going and to keep this club in the Premier League.
“The takeover rumours were rumbling on in the background but they would not have bought the club if it had been relegated. Everyone knew that.
“The only task I was given was to keep the club up. There wasn’t the money to overhaul the squad. Covid drained the club of money, there was virtually nothing to spend this summer, but I wouldn’t walk away from it.
“People told me to quit and if it hadn’t been Newcastle… I refused to give up. I just felt who could come in who was going to be better equipped to keep them up again than me?
Bruce then talked about the Saudi-backed takeover, revealing how happy he is for everyone associated with the club:
“I’m really happy for the fans, the city, everyone associated with this great club.
“This takeover had to happen for the club to improve. It had to happen for Newcastle to have a chance to be the club we all think it should be.
“I did my best, I will leave it to other people to judge whether I did ok or not.
“I wish the new owners, the players, and fans nothing but the best.
“I’m excited about the club’s future. That is the most important thing.”
Some of this really isn’t nice to read. As a human being, no one can justify some of the personal abuse that’s clearly come his way.
The blog itself has taken plenty criticism for being so anti-Bruce over the past few seasons, but we never got personal or launched ‘abuse’ at him, instead just regularly pointed out what so many in the media were blind to – whether it be the damning stats, lack of tactics or baffling comments.
We wish him all the best now the decision which suits all parties has finally been made by the new owners.