Monday, November 29, 2021

Bruce remains in charge of Newcastle for 1,000th game as Rodgers, Benitez dismiss links

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 15 Oct 2021

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Steve Bruce will still be Newcastle United head coach for the visit of Tottenham in the Premier League on Sunday, despite reports of his imminent departure following a lucrative takeover.

This weekend’s game is Newcastle’s first since Mike Ashley sold the club, with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund taking on 80 per cent to become the richest owner in world football.

Bruce was widely expected to be sacked ahead of that encounter, with Amanda Staveley, whose PCP Capital Partners bought 10 per cent of Newcastle, initially unwilling to confirm a decision either way.

But Bruce remained involved in training this week and a statement on Friday, shortly before a news conference taking place at a later time than usual, confirmed he would remain in his position at least until the end of the week.

Staveley said it had been “an extremely busy week reviewing the business and getting to know people”.

“Change does not always happen overnight, it demands time and that we follow a carefully considered plan and strategy,” she added.

Despite repeated reports of Bruce being set to depart, prompting uncertainty throughout the club, Staveley said: “We met Steve and the players on Monday and have given them the time and space this week to focus on preparing for what is a very important game on Sunday.

“Steve has been very professional in our dealings with him, and he and his coaching team will take the team on Sunday.

“If we make any changes going forward, Steve will be the first to know, but, in the meantime, we wish him the best of luck in his 1,000th match as a manager and will be joining you in getting right behind the team.”

Bruce said he only had a “brief, 10-minute conversation” with Staveley on Monday, in which he was told to “carry on until I hear otherwise”.

“There were no discussions on me whatsoever,” he said. “Certain discussions will need to be private, but it was all about the team, injuries, how we’re looking for the weekend. It was very, very informal.

“And I have to say: they were very, very good people. It was good to see them and good to see them around the training ground.

“Let’s not forget it’s a great thing that’s happened for the club and the city. If it takes this great club, then great.”

Asked if he would hope to impress the owners and remain at Newcastle longer term, Bruce replied: “I’ll have a crack. I’ll try my utmost. If they see fit, then great.

“Who wouldn’t want this opportunity now? Any manager would love this opportunity and love to be sitting in my chair. I’ll make a fist of it, try my utmost and, as always, try what’s best for the club.”

A number of names have been linked to Bruce’s job, with Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers prominent among them.

But he said on Friday: “[I am] 100 per cent [committed to Leicester]. I’ve got a contract until 2025. I absolutely love being here.

“I’m very fortunate. I’ve got a great chief exec and a director of football, and a group of players I enjoy working with. We have a structure here that allows us to compete. I want to be here.

“I’ve seen the reports around it. It doesn’t help anyone, particularly Steve and Newcastle. It’s the type of week I don’t like in the modern game.

“We are trying to work hard but the speculation can destabilise players and supporters. I’ve been in the game long enough to focus on my role.”

Rafael Benitez was manager at St James’ Park before Bruce and would be a popular appointment, but he remains committed to Everton.

“I can tell you a lot of friends were asking me the same thing [about returning], and people there, a lot of messages, but from day one when I was talking with the board here, they didn’t need to worry about that,” Benitez said.

“I decide to stay here. I am really happy, trying to improve everything I can here, focused, wishing [Newcastle] all the best but when I decide to come here, I keep my word and I continue working here.”

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