Steve Bruce could be appointed as the new Newcastle manager this week, but United product Michael Chopra has told talkSPORT that he fears the childhood Magpies supporter’s time in the dugout at St James’ Park could be very short-lived.
Chopra’s comments could even be reflected in the wage Mike Ashley is thought to have offered the current Sheffield Wednesday chief, with talkSPORT claiming there is a £1million-a-year contract on the table, which would make Bruce the lowest-paid head coach in the Premier League.
If Bruce must also hit the ground running to keep hold of that deal as Chopra expects, he will have to take something from Norwich City in week two, as North London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur – and Liverpool in September – make our opening fixtures a challenge for any manager.
Bruce will also have to bank on Ashley reaching into his pocket whilst the summer market remains open, as we are lacking talent at the top of the pitch following Ayoze Perez’s exit and Salomon Rondon’s return to West Bromwich Albion following his season on loan.
If Ashley opts against making wholesale signings, he will be left red-faced if, or when, he has to sack Bruce, and will certainly be out of pocket regardless, as no prospective owner will see the Magpies as a financial investment worth taking at the sums the Sports Direct owner demands.
The bigger concern for Chopra, though is that we would be going from a world-class head coach in Rafa Benitez, to one that is not even good enough to leave the second-tier anymore.
“If you are in Steve Bruce’s shoes, as a Newcastle fan and Newcastle come calling, you are going to take the job, ” Chopra said. “On the other hand, the fans don’t want him.
“It’s hard because they’ve gone from Rafa Benitez, a world-class manager who is one of the best in Europe, to, no disrespect to Bruce, but he’s a mediocre Championship manager now. He’s not good enough for the Premier League any more – especially Newcastle United.
“That’s what has disappointed the fans most. There has been talk of [Jose] Mourinho, [Patrick] Vieira and [Steven] Gerrard, all these big names, and even Bruce wasn’t their first choice. Sam Allardyce turned it down, so they’ve had to go to Brucey.
“The owner has to give him the money. He’s got to spend £100million-plus. [Mike] Ashley has got to say he’s backing Bruce and bring the players in, and then get the fans back on side. If he is not going to spend the money, the fans are not going to take to Steve Bruce.
“Their first three games are tough, and if they don’t pick up points in those three games the Newcastle fans will turn – and once they’ve turned, you won’t be able to win them back.”