Earlier this week it was reported by Sky Sports News and The Chronicle that current Sheffield Wednesday manager Steve Bruce was set to be appointed as the new manager of Newcastle United.
Both The Chronicle’s Mark Douglas, and Sky Sports’s Richard Graves reported on July 10th that Steve Bruce was in Newcastle to work out the terms of the appointment with the club, with Mark Douglas even claiming a deal for the manager was “imminent”
Steve Bruce appointment now imminent at #nufc. Details to be worked out with #swfc but he's heading to SJP.— Mark Douglas (@MsiDouglas) July 11, 2019
Could even be in before trip to China. Walking into a firestorm at #NUFC, which he surely knows.
With most clubs, once you have a managerial candidate at your facilities, the deal is all but done. With most clubs, once you reach this stage of the candidate actually being at the club’s grounds he or she are simply there to sign the contract, take some photos, and prepare for their opening presser.
This sentiment makes even more sense when you consider the type of deal Steve Bruce is on with Sheffield Wednesday. Bruce is currently on a one year rolling contract with Wednesday that would in theory make it easy for him to leave the club, or the club to sack him without large sums of money being involved. The deal was a small stroke of genius at the time. The deal, which began technically in January of 2019, would have allowed Steve Bruce to leave Sheffield Wednesday for a better club if he was wildly successful there in the latter half of the Championship season. It also would allow Sheffield Wednesday to fire Bruce and only be responsible for the rest of a year’s wage if he was a disaster.
If you were following most clubs in this situation, all signs would have pointed to Steve Bruce being announced as the club’s manager before the weekend.
Alas, Newcastle are not most clubs, and of course they have run into a bit of a snafus.
The very next day it was reported first by Lee Ryder, that there was a hold up in the potential appointment of Steve Bruce. Lee reported that a compensation package has been a “hitch” in Newcastle’s plans to appoint Bruce as the manager. Many fans interpreted this compensation package hitch as Newcastle not offering enough money to Bruce to secure his services, something that would be on brand for a notoriously frugal club like Newcastle.
Steve Bruce discussions with #nufc have been ongoing today. A compensation package has been the hitch but barring any major disagreements on that, Bruce should be unveiled as new Toon boss. Whether he departs with the squad for China at the weekend also debatable.— Lee Ryder (@lee_ryder) July 11, 2019
Later in the day it was reported that the hitch was actually between Newcastle and Sheffield Wednesday over the amount of money that would be owed to the club for poaching their manager.
#nufc are still to agree compensation with Sheffield Wednesday in their attempt to appoint Steve Bruce as manager. Talks ongoing.— Luke Edwards (@LukeEdwardsTele) July 12, 2019
On one hand, Sheffield Wednesday have every right to demand more compensation for losing their coach, and all of his assistants a little over a month before the season begins. On the other hand, Steve Bruce is not exactly a coach worth haggling over. There are plenty of Steve Bruce-level coaches still available for hire.
Bruce was only able to secure a mid-table finish for the club in England’s second division, The Championship, after taking over in January for Dutch manager Jos Luhukay who was fired in December of last year after less than a year of being in charge.
After his appointment Bruce took a month leave of absence to grieve the death of his parents, and recover from some medical operations. Bruce was criticized by pundits for doing this, but the club and fans remained supportive of the manager as they expected the relationship between manager and club to be a fruitful one. After the season’s end the club still had faith in Bruce as he only racked up 4 losses since January.
Despite his impressive end of the season, there is plenty about Bruce to be cautious about. Bruce was fired early last season from Aston Villa, who went on to gain promotion after a rough start under Bruce. Bruce additionally has been criticized for his stubbornness to change as a manager tactically, despite football constantly evolving tactically.
In short, Steve Bruce is not worth haggling over for either side. He’s a sub-par manager, who has managed sub-par clubs, and has gotten sub-par results.
This haggling left Newcastle, Steve Bruce, and Sheffield Wednesday in an awkward situation as both clubs had upcoming preseason friendlies.
Bruce was forced to manage Sheffield Wednesday in an away friendly against Lincoln City. Bruce was put in the awkward situation of trying to manage his squad, with all parties unsure whether he would be their manager in the upcoming season.
Steve Bruce has not travelled with Sheff Wed on team bus today #nufc— Lee Ryder (@lee_ryder) July 13, 2019
The day got worse when a disgruntled Sheffield Wednesday supporter stormed the technical area, obviously upset with Steve Bruce.
A #SWFC fan confronted Steve Bruce in the dug-out and has now been escorted off the pitch by the stewards. The fan was booed by the away end.— Dom Howson (@domhowson) July 13, 2019
Then, the day began to worsen further for Newcastle supporters as more and more reports began to surface that Newcastle had not even made a formal approach for the manager (original tweet below).
I'm told there's no change at #swfc regarding Steve Bruce. The club hasn't received an approach from #nufc. Bruce took the Owls training today at Middlewood and has been around the club.@footballheaven— Adam Oxley (@adam3oxley) July 12, 2019
After the match Bruce stated in his presser that it is essentially up to the two clubs to figure out a compensation package, pretty much affirming his interest in the Newcastle role.
Steve Bruce has spoken to the media. This is what he had to say on Newcastle: "Speculation is speculation. It's in the hands of the clubs. For me, at this particular moment, there is nothing really to talk about until the two clubs reach some sort of compromise." #SWFC— Dom Howson (@domhowson) July 13, 2019
So... Where does this leave us now?
Well, as it stands the Newcastle squad are on their way to China for their first set of preseason friendlies, against Premier League competition, with no first team manager. Neil Redfearn is the caretaker manager at the moment, and we have no idea if there are any plans to give him a permanent promotion.
Right now, Newcastle are the laughing stock of the Premier League as they have let one of the best managers in Europe walk away from the club, have made no signings, have not retained the services of their top two goal scorers, and are currently struggling to gain the services of a sub par manager who’s only accolade is being a FA Cup Runner Up.
The saddest thing about this whole ordeal is that fans are not even shocked that the club is appearing less and less competent each day. The only glimmer of hope that remains at the club is that one day someone, literally anyone, would come in and purchase the club.
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