Steve Bruce and Mike Ashley now face having to back up their promises in final week of August
In a fortnight’s time, Mike Ashley and Steve Bruce are going to be tested.
Will their actions match up to their promises?
They have been very bullish saying the days of Newcastle United not throwing everything at the cups are long gone.
Rafa Benitez made clear, any number of times, that with the failure to be allowed proper investment to build a strong enough squad, he had no choice but to protect key players when it came to the cup competitions.
Rafa making it clear that this was the reality unless Mike Ashley changed his ways. Actually allowing proper squad investment so that it would allow Newcastle to have a go at the cups, rather than embarrassing PR stunts such as offering a £20m bonus for winning the FA Cup whilst at the same time refusing to back the manager with the right level of signings.
As soon as he took the job, Steve Bruce was promising it is all different now with cup ambition:
‘I’ve put my neck on the line immediately! I’m not really bothered what’s been done before. Surely as a club we can win five games? Can we win a cup tie, can we do well in the League Cup or the FA Cup? That’s got to be an aim. It’s not just about staying in the division and being happy with that – that would be wrong.’
As for Mike Ashley, after Bruce’s appointment he said it was great that now Rafa Benitez had gone, he at last had a manager (head coach…) who would be now throwing everything at winning the cups:
‘And now I’ve got a manager saying, “Let me get on with it. Just let me get on with it – I won’t let you down”. I’m thinking, “I’m definitely having that”. He gets it. He comes in: “The cups? Yeah, we go for them”.’
This is how Newcastle’s early season now looks:
August 11 – Newcastle 0 Arsenal 1
August 17 – Norwich v Newcastle
August 25 – Tottenham v Newcastle
August 27 or 28 – Newcastle v Leicester (League Cup)
August 31 – Newcastle v Watford
September 14 – Liverpool v Newcastle
Last night’s cup draw couldn’t have gone worse for Mike Ashley and Steve Bruce, when it comes to their cup promises.
If Newcastle get a draw or even worse, lose at Norwich, it would look pretty certain with Spurs away, NUFC would be then facing Leicester in the cup with one or no points on the board, knowing only a few days later it is a crucial PL home game with Watford, then Liverpool away then follows that.
With a squad short on quality and a tough start to the season, Rafa knew he couldn’t put his best team out at Forest last August, the same when facing Watford in the FA Cup in January, in the middle of a relegation battle.
Will Mike Ashley and Steve Bruce really play their best team against Leicester if up against it in the Premier League? Will Dubravka, Almiron, Joelinton and ASM all play?
Rafa knew he couldn’t risk Rondon in January in the FA Cup as he was the key player, without him things would look a massive struggle. If Joelinton got injured, who would Newcastle play against Watford?
Newcastle lost their two goalscorers in the summer and have brought in Joelinton.
The NUFC owner knew that Dwight Gayle was injured and had taken no part in pre-season, so who knows when he will return.
To compound the problem, the other striker signed is Andy Carroll, who won’t be available until mid- September at the very earliest, if ever.
Leicester are where Newcastle should at the very least be when it comes to cups, in the last three years they have been in four quarter-finals, one FA Cup, one Champions League and two League Cup ones.
In 12 years of Mike Ashley, Newcastle have been in two quarter-finals, one League Cup and one Europa League.
When Ashley gave John Carver the job he promised to put a very strong team out, only to then embarrassingly change most of the team for the FA Cup and lose to Leicester. He then claimed there had been a lot of injuries, only for then all of them to be miraculously ok for the next Premier League game.
We know that nothing shames Mike Ashley but is Steve Bruce going to be left embarrassed after his very first cup team selection, only a month after making such grand claims?
Welcome to Mike Ashley’s Newcastle United!
Mike Ashley PR statement on The Mail -26 July 2019:
‘I expected the negative reaction to Rafa leaving, I thought it would be very bad. But I was shocked by the reaction to Steve. He doesn’t deserve it. He’s one of their own. I don’t think the fans quite realise what they’ve got because I’m hoping he’s the one.
‘There’s been some hurtful stuff, that he was our 11th choice. Actually, we had a short-list of three and Steve was one of them. His only worry was how soon he could start. I’m not a football expert, I don’t get involved, I’ve got a car but I’m not the driver.
And now I’ve got a manager saying, “Let me get on with it. Just let me get on with it – I won’t let you down”. I’m thinking, “I’m definitely having that”. He gets it.
He comes in: “The cups? Yeah, we go for them”.
‘Certain things I haven’t got right. I used to think our Premier League finish was more important. But where can we realistically go with this top six? The cups are the best of it. And it’s great to have a conversation with someone who is so passionate for Newcastle United. I know I’m an eternal optimist but with what we’ve got now at the football club, something might be possible.
‘And you can’t believe how that would make me feel.
Steve Bruce in July after getting the Newcastle job:
“I’ve put my neck on the line immediately (saying he won’t prioritise Premier League over the cups)!
“I’m not really bothered what’s been done before. I can understand the philosophy of it but my perception of it all changed at Hull.
“We were 2-0 up in the (2014) FA Cup final against Arsenal.
“We nearly won it.
“My perception of it changed too. Hull supporters had the best day out in their lives.
“That’s got to be a route and that’s what we’ll try and do.
“I realised it at Hull.
“We got to the FA Cup final and if you ask the supporters what their biggest day was, getting into the Premier League or getting to the FA Cup final and they’d say the final.
“Surely as a club we can win five games?
Can we win a cup tie, can we do well in the League Cup or the FA Cup?
“That’s got to be an aim. It’s not just about staying in the division and being happy with that – that would be wrong.”
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