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Heavy defeat to Wolves shows size of task facing Bruce at Newcastle

Steve Bruce was given an early indication of the size of task facing him at Newcastle as Wolves thrashed his new side 4-0 in China.

The former Manchester United defender, who quit Sheffield Wednesday earlier in the week, was finally confirmed as the new manager of the Magpies on Wednesday after days of speculation.

With no time to fly out to Nanjing, the 58-year-old will have seen his team outplayed on TV by a Wolves side admittedly at a far more advanced stage of their pre-season preparations.

Newcastle conceded three times before half-time at the Olympic Sports Centre, with Diogo Jota striking twice either side of a Morgan Gibbs-White effort.

The Premier League Asia Trophy may only be an exhibition event, and the heat and humidity were oppressive, but Newcastle were a clear second best. Their poor night got even worse when substitute Thomas Allan headed into his own net late on.

Newcastle will now move on to Shanghai, where Bruce will hopefully link up with them, before playing their second match in the competition on Saturday.

Ben Dawson, the club’s academy chief, has been running first-team affairs alongside under-23s coach Neil Redfearn since the departure of Rafael Benitez last month.

After a difficult summer with key players also leaving and takeover rumours continuing, Dawson hopes things can start to turn around.

“Obviously I’m really pleased with that, the players and staff now know who is going to come in to lead the team,” said Dawson at the post-match press conference.

“To my knowledge he is on his way and we hope he will be here soon to join the team at the hotel in Shanghai.

“It was great for the younger lads to get on the pitch here and do the things we know they can do. The other positive is everyone we planned to get minutes got minutes.

“The manager is travelling here knowing our preparations are still going as planned and he has a full squad here for when he arrives.”

The appointment of Bruce has not been universally welcomed by supporters, who have long voiced their frustration with owner Mike Ashley. Even 6,000 miles away in China, there was the odd isolated ‘Ashley out’ chant.

Defender Federico Fernandez said: “I understand the fans and the situation but for us we want to work and be better as a team, work hard and be ready for the new season.

“We want to show the fans and everyone we can compete. Of course fans maybe want a different manager or players but we need to work hard to show we are ready for the Premier League.”

The match was a good workout for Wolves, who begin competitive action with a Europa League qualifier next week.

Manager Nuno Espirito Santo said: “This is the idea, to try to increase minutes, give them game time so in one week’s time we are ready to go.

“We are trying to progress and improve and the idea is to try to accelerate but it is going well.”