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Opinion

Steve Bruce latest on new contracts for key players just adds to the farce at Newcastle United

2 months ago
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It is 178 days since Steve Bruce took his first Newcastle United press conference ahead of a competitive match.

The mood wasn’t great as Newcastle fans  had been left reeling by the actions of Mike Ashley.

The  NUFC owner making no attempt to keep the club’s only two reliable goalscorers and reverting to a system where Mike Ashley himself had the final say on transfers, which had included the bizarre £40m signing of Joelinton to bring the necessary goals, even though his best previous league season was eight goals in the very weak Austrian league.

Most importantly, Mike Ashley had forced out Rafa Benitez and reverted once again to the lower leagues, bringing in a head coach so desperate for the job, he would agree to only have power over training and selecting  the team.

Clearly feeling the pressure and anger of Newcastle fans, the club and Steve Bruce included a rather bizarre subject in the head coach’s very first competitive match press conference.

Steve Bruce strangely insisted on new contracts for players being the big topic of discussion.

Despite making no effort over the entire summer to extend anybody’s contract, Steve Bruce suddenly insisted on the very eve of the first game, that new contracts were imminent with a host of key players, to ensure they felt properly rewarded and would of course be tied down for longer.

It looked a blatant/typical Ashley PR move at the time, with Steve Bruce happy to read from the prepared script and so it has proved.

This is what Steve Bruce said on 9 August 2019 at the pre-Arsenal press conference:

“The club three years ago blew away the Championship.

“The players brought in were too good for the Championship.

“And those players, five or six of them, are still the nucleus of the squad.

“They deserve big credit and that is why I want to reward them (with new enhanced contracts).

“I have had a conversation with Lee Charnley and he feels exactly the same too.

“We’ll be sitting down and talking to four or five of them to make sure that cornerstone remains.

“It is vitally important that the ones who have been here, they deserve a big pat on the back.

“They deserve new deals which we need to tie them up to and I think Lee (Charnley) has already spoken to two or three.

“He (Isaac Hayden) has indicated he is willing to sit down and talk to us – I’m delighted of course.

“Him and Matt Ritchie and the goalkeeper and the captain (Jamaal Lascelles), there are probably four or five we want to talk to.”

We now find ourselves 178 days later and not a single player who was part of that Championship team and then came up and performed so well in the Premier League, has agreed a new contract.

The only player to sign a new contract has been Martin Dubravka and that came almost three months after Steve Bruce first insisted new contract were imminent in terms of being agreed with key players.

In countless interviews/press conferences since, Steve Bruce has continued to insist that new deals were set to be imminently announced and has named various other players also set to agree new deals but absolutely nothing has happened.

The only conclusion to draw is that either Newcastle United aren’t in reality making  any real effort to get players to sign new contracts and/or what they are offering is nowhere near good enough to persuade players to commit themselves further.

The club haven’t even been able to agree terms with 19 year old Matty Longstaff, it has now gone on for months with Steve Bruce continually claiming the younger Longstaff will sign a new deal but the reality now is that with his current deal (reported to be only £850 per week/£44,000  a year) ending in June, Newcastle would receive only £400,000 development compensation if he decided to leave.

Asked on Monday morning at his pre-Oxford cup replay press conference yet again about the farcical contract situation at Newcastle United and especially the situation with the Longstaff brothers (Sean Longstaff”s current contract was agreed before he had played a single minute of Premier League football, so will be on minimal money compared to most of the team/squad, apart from his brother!), Steve Bruce said:

Asked about no new Matty Longstaff contract agreed yet:

“It is a concern, of course it is.

“I hope that we can get that tied up, I really do.

“But they (the players) have got the power these days.

“We see it often now, with young players as well.

“I hope there is a bit of common sense.

“There is nobody aged 19, who has played more games than him.

“He has got an opportunity.”

Sean Longstaff new contract?:

“We always want to keep your best young players, especially if they are Geordies of course.

“Let us hope that they both get tied up.”

This raises all kinds of questions.

What has been going on in these past six months since Steve Bruce made those claims before that first game of the season?

Why can’t new contracts be agreed with current players as well as trying to bring  in new players?

If you really want certain players to stay, it makes no sense not to try and tie them down for longer, especially when so many players have so little time remaining on their current deals. In total, 17 of Newcastle’s current 26 man first team squad (what is set to be official 25 man senior NUFC PL squad for rest of season, plus 19 year old Matty Longstaff) have contracts with 17 months or less to run.

With the likes of the Longstaff brothers, so much seems to be relying on the fact that they are Newcastle fans, yet if an ambitious club such as say Leicester or Wolves came in and took a punt on Matty Longstaff, such a low compensation figure having to be paid and offered him proper Premier League wages and painted a picture of what could be possible at a non-Ashley ambitious club, why wouldn’t he be tempted?

Likewise the more experienced players amongst our small group of better quality performers, if the likes of Wolves and especially Leicester came in for them, why wouldn’t they look at Ayoze Perez and think, why not?

Of course, we also have the possibility that Newcastle United have indeed made offers to various players and they have all said no, with the exception of Dubravka, obviously Mike Ashley and his people wouldn’t be wanting to broadcast that.

Mike Ashley needs to make credible contract offers to Newcastle’s best players to tie them down and allow proper investment in the club infrastructure and playing squad to help convince them that it is worth staying at St James Park.

So often in the past we have seen Mike Ashley and his people spin it so it is supposed greedy players that are the problem, rather than a club that is totally without any ambition.

It sounds very much like Steve Bruce is happily reading a prepared Ashley PR script when he says stuff like: ‘But they (the players) have got the power these days. We see it often now, with young players as well. I hope there is a bit of common sense.’

It sounds very much like paving the way for blaming the likes of the Longstaff brothers if Mike Ashley still refuses to offer acceptable contracts.

We have seen before how the media are more than happy to do Ashley’s dirty work for him and publish his propaganda. Watch out shortly for stories appearing in newspapers with claims of massive amounts of money the likes of Matty and Sean Longstaff allegedly want.

As always, only one person to blame for the mess at Newcastle United, plus of course the puppets prepared to do his dirty work.

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