Steve Bruce hits back at claims Newcastle are 'stagnating and stale'

Louise Taylor on 10 July 2020

Steve Bruce polarises opinion on Tyneside to such an extent some Newcastle fans believe he should win the Premier League’s manager of the year award while others are convinced the team have stagnated under his charge.

Although Bruce feels he is behind Liverpool’s Jürgen Klopp, Sheffield United’s Chris Wilder and Burnley’s Sean Dyche when it comes to manager of the year, he evidently feels irked about claims of standing still.

“In the last 14 or 15 years, only two or three times [in the Premier League] have we had more points at this stage of the season than now and one of those times Newcastle finished fifth,” said Bruce, whose side visit Watford on Saturday in 13th place with 43 points.

“We are in a position where we are not stagnating, we are trying to take the club forward, we are trying to improve year on year. So this myth the club is stagnating and we are in this horrible, stale environment, it’s just not right. It’s important we address it.”

In 2011-12 Newcastle collected 65 points to finish fifth under Alan Pardew but they have since spent a season in the Championship and are in a position to improve on last term’s 13th-placed finish with 45 points under Rafael Benítez.

“As for the debate surrounding myself, I know I’m never going to win it with some people but I’m not here to win a popularity contest,” Bruce said. “I just hope people will judge me fairly on what we do and where we are. For me it’s all about taking this great club forward. I only want what is best for the club.”

Bruce and Newcastle are in limbo while they wait to learn whether the £300m Saudi Arabian-led takeover, which would end Mike Ashley’s 13-year ownership, has been approved by the Premier League.

“We need a decision, we need clarity – and I first said this weeks ago,” said Bruce, whose pre-season and transfer plans are on hold. “The takeover decision is hanging over us. It’s been going on for 15 weeks.”

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