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Steve Bruce on Newcastle exclusive: “The ridicule crossed a line – it hurt me”

Formerly Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce
(Image credit: Getty)

Former Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce has told FourFourTwo that mockery of him "crossed a line". 

The Magpies hired Bruce to take over from the much-adored Rafa Benitez in 2019, with the fans taking the appointment particularly badly. Opinion of the former Aston Villa, Birmingham City, Hull City and Sunderland manager didn't pick up too much either – and Bruce was fired in 2021 shortly after the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia bought the club.

Looking back now, the Northumberland-born boss tells FFT that he knew it was going to be a difficult job but that even he knows he made mistakes along the way.

“I was under no illusions whatsoever when I arrived at Newcastle,” he explains. “I was becoming part of an unpopular regime and knew I’d be associated with Mike Ashley from day one. And I was replacing Rafael Benitez, who was loved by the fans. 

“So I expected criticism and yes, some of it was justified. We weren’t pleasing on the eye a lot of the time and there were periods when we really struggled. But the ridicule and the mockery crossed a line. It did hurt me and it upset my family, too. 

“After my first match, I was accused of throwing on a substitute and telling him to play where he wanted – then the next week, someone said I didn’t know how to properly warm up the team. I was even accused of giving the squad too much time off so I could go off on holiday! Criticism is one thing, but on occasions it got very personal and showed a basic lack of respect.” 

Steve Bruce

(Image credit: PA)

When asked however whether he felt peeved that his methods have been so unfavourably compared with his successor, Eddie Howe’s, Bruce laughed.

“Listen, I’ve been in the game a long time and I’m yet to hear a player say, ‘This manager’s not bad but I preferred the last one’,” Bruce says. “Eddie has had a lot more money to spend than I ever did, but he’s brought in some good players and improved the team. I’m very happy to acknowledge that, because Newcastle and the fans deserve the success. 

“I worked there at a time when everyone was talking about a potential takeover, and will it or won’t it happen. The club needed new owners to come in to re-energise it, and I always knew that if it came during my watch, I probably wouldn’t be hanging around for too long. 

“I just hope that a few years down the line, some of those supporters who never wanted me will look back at my time in charge and say, ‘Under the circumstances, Brucey didn’t do too bad a job after all’.”

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Mark White has been a staff writer on FourFourTwo since joining in January 2020, writing pieces for both online and the magazine. Over his time on the brand, he has interviewed the likes of Aaron Ramsdale and Jack Wilshere, written pieces ranging on subjects from Bobby Robson's season at Barcelona to Robinho's career, and has been to the FA Cup and League Cup finals, working for FFT