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‘The deal that proves Steve Bruce has no say at Newcastle United’

2 weeks ago
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Steve Bruce is adamant that he has control at Newcastle United.

Steve Bruce insisting that he would never have taken the job to be a Mike Ashley puppet, as has been the accusation with so many previous Newcastle United managers (and head coaches…).

For NUFC fans, the overwhelming majority, they most definitely see Steve Bruce in exactly the same light as Alan Pardew, John Carver, Steve McClaren and JFK.

What is the evidence either way?

Newcastle United fans can only go by what they see and again, for the overwhelming majority, they watch the Steve Bruce press conferences and he is 100% team Ashley (as well as often antagonising Newcastle fans). Just like those named above, saying anything and everything to praise Mike Ashley and deflect any criticism of the club’s owner. Very embarrassing some of his (Bruce’s) performances, both when bigging Mike Ashley and himself up, piles of fanmail springing to mind…

Nobody expects Steve Bruce to come out and slag Mike Ashley off BUT after 14 years of Ashley ownership, we have become very adept at spotting those with integrity and those without…

The very fact that Mike Ashley made Steve Bruce have the title of Head Coach, rather than Manager, just as he had done with McClaren and Carver, doesn’t exactly push Bruce’s claims of being his own man and not an Ashley puppet etc etc.

How about transfers then, surely at the heart of deciding how much say any Newcastle United Manager (or Head Coach…) has under Mike Ashley.

Well, Steve Bruce has insisted any number of times, every single signing these past 19 months has had to be signed off by him.

Steve Bruce arrived at Newcastle United on 17 July 2019, Joelinton arrived for a £40m (Ashley says £43m) fee on 23 July 2017.

Bruce was certainly a fast mover to more than double the club’s transfer record, especially as he (Steve Bruce) was in China (and travelling there and back) for most of those days leading up to our Brazilian superstar arriving.

Indeed, within days of Joelinton arriving, in late July 2019 Mike Ashley went on the offensive (very offensive) with that ridiculous PR statement in The Mail, dressed up to be supposedly an interview.

The NUFC owner mainly using this media statement to slag off Rafa Benitez, making clear he (Rafa) was forced out of the club so that Mike Ashley could once again control transfers in and out of Newcastle United. Ashley having had to agree in 2016 that Benitez would have the final say, otherwise he wouldn’t have got the world class manager to stay and clear up the mess that he (Ashley) had created.

Mike Ashley stated that the Joelinton deal was set up over five months and more before Steve Bruce arrived at St James Park, with only Rafa Benitez having delayed it, Ashley making a mockery of any claims by Bruce that it had been the Head Coach’s decision to sign Joelinton or not.

Other signings quickly followed, with Allan Saint-Maximin coming to Newcastle on 2 August 2019 and Jetro Willems on loan the same day. Emil Krafth on 8 August 2019 and Andy Carroll also coming in, the former NUFC striker a free agent having been released by West Ham.

ASM, Willems and Krafth were all revealed to have been players tracked and deals set up long before Steve Bruce was appointed at NUFC.

As for Andy Carroll, I don’t have a clue whose daft idea it was to sign somebody who is rarely, if ever, fit, doesn’t score goals (only one Premier League goal now in over 34 months) and has such limited ability. I can quite believe Carroll would be a Steve Bruce signing but no doubt Mike Ashley does deserve the majority of the ‘credit’ for this one as well.

Journalists loyal to Steve Bruce have claimed that whilst summer 2019 signings might not have ‘all’ been down to the NUFC Head Coach, those that followed, have been Steve Bruce choices.

January 2020 saw Rose, Bentaleb and Lazaro arrive on loan. Rose was never fully fit and didn’t look committed, Bentaleb was woeful, whilst the most promising signing of the trio, winger Lazaro was bizarrely never given a proper chance, only four Premier League starts with two of those as a right-back and the other two against opposition who dominated the matches, meaning effectively Lazaro was playing as a defender in those as well.

Impossible to tell really what say Steve Bruce had in those loan deals but based on just how clueless he was with what to do with Lazaro, it is difficult to believe that they were his choices.

Wilson, Fraser, Lewis, Hendrick and Gillespie arrived in summer 2020 and certainly Wilson and Fraser have long been claimed to be Newcastle United targets, so who knows what say Steve Bruce had on these ones?

In the time that Steve Bruce has been at Newcastle United there has been £100m+ net spending on players. Exactly how much say do you think Lee Charnley, Steve Nickson and Steve Bruce each have on who comes in? Do they indeed have any?

When it comes to final say, it is very difficult to see this as anything but Mike Ashley himself deciding, or doing so with the assistance / guidance of somebody he trusts. I wouldn’t be surprised if just as Justin Barnes and not Lee Charnley is the one in charge of pulling the strings at Newcastle United off the pitch, somebody like Dennis Wise or similar has the ear of Mike Ashley on transfers.

When all is said and done though, I think that the very most recent low key deal is the one that proves Steve Bruce has absolutely no real say at Newcastle United, when it comes to transfers in or out, or indeed anything else of real consequence.

DeAndre Yedlin became first choice right-back for Steve Bruce, starting five Premier League games in a row in late December 2020 and early January 2021, with Manquillo and Krafth left on the bench.

The club then messed up Yedlin’s visa situation meaning he wasn’t allowed to play in the later January Premier League matches.

Then out of the blue, Galatasaray announced that DeAndre Yedlin had signed for them, the rules in Turkey meaning their announcement included the exact amounts Yedlin will be paid in the seasons he will be at the club, plus how much they paid Newcastle United for the defender.

The amount was £0, a player who only weeks earlier had become Steve Bruce’s first choice right-back, given away for nothing in the middle of a relegation fight, with nobody brought in as a replacement.

After yet another defeat on Monday night at Chelsea, making it 11 defeats in the last 15 games and only two wins in that run, Steve Bruce was questioned as to how it made any sense to let DeAndre Yedlin leave Newcastle for nothing in the middle of a relegation fight.

With Manquillo now set to be out for the rest of the season, Emil Krafth set to start every week and the Swedish defender yet again woeful, the worst player on the pitch at Stamford Bridge. He hasn’t suggested in any game of the few Steve Bruce has chosen to play him in that he is Premier League level, very slow and so poor on the key opening Chelsea goal.

Steve Bruce defending the DeAndre Yedlin decision…

“Look, he [Yedlin] was out of contract (at end of June 2021] and we had three right-backs at the club.

“So we made the decision [to let Yedlin leave for nothing and not replace him].

“You have to make decisions.

“We had to make way for somebody else to come in.

“I have got no regrets.”

So then, hands up those of you who think that it was Steve Bruce that made this decision on Yedlin, that he (Bruce) was perfectly happy with it and that he (Bruce) indeed has ‘got no regrets’ whatsoever.

DeAndre Yedlin in December / January was playing ahead of both Manquillo and Krafth, so why would Steve Bruce suddenly be happy to get rid of Yedlin, especially in the middle of a relegation battle.

Steve Bruce says Yedlin was going to be out of contract at the end of June but what relevance has that? If Newcastle United had received a significant fee then that at least would make some kind of sense to sell the USMNT international now, but to just give him away in the middle of this relegation battle, what manager (or head coach) would choose to do that???

The answer for the vast majority of fans is that this is simply a typical Mike Ashley decision, looking at the table and despite Newcastle in woeful form and so low in the table, the owner seeing a sizeable points gap to Fulham and thinking as Bruce declares ‘we had three right-backs’…totally ignoring the fact that one of the other two is hopeless, whilst Manquillo had suffered from a number of injuries this season as well as suffering from the virus, only starting nine PL matches.

Then of course the obvious happening, Yedlin leaves and Manquillo instantly picking up a serious injury, Steve Bruce left with seemingly no option but to play Krafth every week.

This gets to the heart of why Newcastle United is such a mess. Mike Ashley absolutely clueless and reckless (as well as malicious and totally lacking ambition), then employing people such as Steve Bruce and his coaching staff back in July 2019, who have absolutely zero record of success.

This whole mess means that Newcastle United end up paying £43m for a Brazilian striker who doesn’t even like going in the box AND giving away a first team player in the middle of a relegation battle.

Steve Bruce declares about Yedlin leaving: ‘We had to make way for somebody else to come in.’

Well this certainly isn’t true in terms of having to make way / space in the squad, we laughably saw Christian Atsu named in the official NUFC Premier League squad for the rest of the season, even though he will never get on the pitch.

Joe Willock did come in on loan but he counts as an Under 21 player and so didn’t take up a place in the 25 man senior squad.

Journalists loyal to Steve Bruce have desperately defended him and the Yedlin departure, claiming that if Bruce didn’t get Yedlin’s wages off the bill, he wouldn’t have been allowed to bring in Willock.

Well, I’m sorry, but whatever you decide to believe, even if you believe this Yedlin / Willock wages, it hardly makes anybody believe that Steve Bruce has any real say at Newcastle United.

Joe Willock is on a contract he signed back in 2019 with Arsenal when he had hardly played any first team matches, at the time various media reported it as a basic £20,000 a week. As well as Yedlin, Rolando Aarons and Achraf Lazaar have also left for good in the past month or so.

It is surely laughable to think that any normal club with a normal manager (and normal owner), would seriously be weakening the squad in the middle of a relegation fight for such a tiny amount (in football terms) of money. Ainsley Maitland-Niles is far higher up the Arsenal pecking order, has already played a number of times for England, Willock will have been far cheaper and probably not even NUFC having to pay a loan fee, which the Baggies surely had to do with Maitland-Niles.

Then the media are reluctant to mention / remind that far from having a pauper owner, Mike Ashley is a multi-billionaire and certainly in the top half of the PL when it comes to richest owners, plus we are supposed to believe he is still actively trying to sell NUFC for £350m or so.

A relegation, even if it wouldn’t end hopes of a sale for sure, would 100%  see the buyer wanting to play less than if Newcastle are a PL club, something that Ashley surely would never accept.

Steve Bruce in control? Mike Ashley in control? Lee Charnley or Justin Barnes or Steve Nickson in control…?

What we now know for sure is that whoever is in control at Newcastle United, of anything, is absolutely useless.

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