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Lee Clark verdict on Newcastle United sacking Steve Bruce – If going to do it, do it now

1 month ago
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Lee Clark has been talking about Steve Bruce after his record stretched to two wins in the last seventeen matches, following the draw with Wolves.

Only nine points picked up from the last possible forty five, which is relegation form in anybody’s language.

If Fulham win at home to Tottenham on Thursday, Newcastle United will finally drop into the relegation zone, something that has been threatening to happen for some time.

When speaking about Steve Bruce, Lee Clark finds himself in the same uncomfortable position as Alan Shearer.

Both of them close friends of Bruce’s and like Alan Shearer, no doubt Lee Clark wished from the start that Steve Bruce hadn’t taken the job.

However, how it now comes to an end is a tricky one for Bruce’s mates.

Lee Clark sits on the fence as to whether or not Steve Bruce should be sacked but does say that results have to improve.

The question is, after two wins in seventeen, how many more matches should Bruce be allowed to continue.

I think fair to say that an overwhelming majority of Newcastle fans believe that point was passed a long long time ago.

With twelve games remaining, the message from Lee Clark appears to be that if Mike Ashley is going to push the button, he needs to do it now, or else he may as well let Steve Bruce see it through until the end of the season. Clark pointing to Ashley’s two relegations (so far), where he waited until ten and eight games left respectively in 2009 and 2016 before making a managerial change to try and turn it around, leaving the new man / men (Shearer and Benitez) far too little time.

Newcastle have games against West Brom (away), Villa (home) and Brighton (away) before a two week international break in the second half of March. Imagine if Steve Bruce oversees those three games and doesn’t get any victories, two wins in twenty games!

An international break sounds like the ideal team to change a manager, if you are going to do so, but if Mike Ashley waits that long, there will be only nine matches left for a new NUFC boss to work on. The nine games making it a nice and tidy fit, to go with the ten and eight games when change was finally made too late in those previous relegations.

Newcastle United fans have such low expectations with Mike Ashley, the two most likely scenarios appear to be…

Steve Bruce stays until the end of the season (and possibly / probably beyond) regardless of what the results are and where Newcastle are in the table.

Steve Bruce at some point gets the sack and Graeme Jones is put in temporary charge until the end of the season.

Whilst the newly appointed coach has been seen as a generally popular addition, that is pretty much entirely down to the fact that he is not Steve Bruce AND many fans believe, rightly or wrongly, he is proving to be an irritant to the Head Coach. Newcastle supporters picking up on Steve Bruce’s body language during matches on the touchline.

The simple fact is though that whilst Graeme Jones has had a very decent to good career as a number two and part of coaching teams, his only management experience though was last season. Jones and Luton parting company in April 2020 with the club 23rd in the Championship after picking up only 35 points in 37 games, after the change of management they added 16 points in nine games and somehow survived.

No disrespect to Graeme Jones but only a fool would then risk Premier League survival on somebody with that management record.

Which brings us to Mike Ashley…

Lee Clark speaking to Tribal Football:

“You never know what could happen if you replace your manager.

“There’s been times where it has worked and times it hasn’t. It’s a gamble, you’re gambling every time you make a managerial change and certainly when there’s the potential of what’s hanging around the corner if Steve was to move on and they bring someone else in it doesn’t come without risk.

“I think Steve knows that himself and knows the results have not been good and that brings you under pressure.

“There has to be an improvement in results certainly.

“I think the biggest fear for the Newcastle fans is that the last two times they went down, when Mike Ashley made the changes with Alan Shearer and Rafa Benitez, they weren’t given enough time to get the results to try and change. It was a nigh-on impossible task that both of them faced to try and keep the club in the Premier League.

“So I think if there is any thought process about making it then I think if they’ve learnt anything from the past they’d make it sooner rather than later but I don’t know what their thoughts are but certainly the last two times they’ve done that they’ve gambled too late that’s the decision they have to make.”

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