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Steve Bruce wasn’t our last resort – He was Mike Ashley’s choice

3 years ago

I have had a few conversations with football fans over the last few days regarding our appointment of Steve Bruce as replacement for Rafael Benitez.

When asked my opinion, I have voiced my displeasure at what his appointment stands for – mainly a complete lack of ambition by the regime to try and achieve anything more than simply staying in the Premier League.

The question that has come back to me – and it is a fair one – is who else would have taken the job given the current situation with the ownership of the club.

The answer can be found in two clubs in the Championship – Leeds United and Derby County.

In the summer of 2018 both were looking for new managers after the previous season. There were tight financial constraints with both clubs having to rely heavily on loan deals and players coming through their academies.

Significant resource was not available.

So who did they appoint?

Well, Leeds, a club who have now been out of the Premier League for over 15 years managed to attract one of the most prominent coaches in world football in Marcelo Bielsa.

And Derby Country, who had lost their manager Gary Rowett, to recently relegated Stoke City, took a gamble and appointed one of the greatest midfielders of his generation – but an untested manager – in the form of Frank Lampard.

Both managers were at opposing ends of their career but both appointments showed two key qualities.

They were brave and ambitious.

Neither of which could be said about our appointment of Steve Bruce.

Both appointments also carried significant risks. Despite Bielsa’s reputation as a world leading coach his record as a manager is mixed, while Lampard had nothing but a hugely impressive playing career on his CV.

Both men also put their own reputations on the line but were prepared to do so because they bought into the vision of their prospective clubs.

They were also appointments that showed imagination on behalf of Leeds United and Derby Country, who were prepared to try something different in order to try and achieve their goals.

Bielsa remains in post at Leeds but Lampard has moved on to Chelsea. Who did Derby replace him with?

Philip Cocu a man with over 100 caps for the Netherlands during his playing days and one who won six trophies, including three league titles, during his first job in management with PSV Eindhoven.

I like to think he would have been a better option than Bruce and would surely have fancied a crack at the job.

There are other managers out there.

Giovanni Van Bronckhorst is available after a successful spell in charge of Feyenoord. Maybe Mikel Arteta or Steven Gerrard might have fancied a go at the job.

The problem is nobody at Newcastle United thinks to ask.

We know what we are going to get with Bruce – a team that will likely stay up by the skin of its teeth but nothing more.

Who knows what an ambitious young coach with a vision might have achieved. At this moment we’ll never know but let’s make one thing clear. Bruce wasn’t our last resort.

He was Ashley and Charnley’s choice – quite simply because they couldn’t be bothered to think outside the box and ask anyone else.


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