Why has Steve Bruce taken the Newcastle United job?
By Joe Harker
Newcastle United have announced former Sheffield Wednesday coach Steve Bruce is their new manager.
The manager, who is a self confessed Newcastle fan, resigned from Wednesday on Monday along with coaches Steve Agnew and Stephen Clemence to expedite a move.
He replaces the hugely popular Rafa Benitez, whose contract expired last month and criticised the club for failing to share his visions and ambitions.
With the departure of Benitez many believe the Newcastle job is a poisoned chalice best avoided.
A poor squad made worse by sales and an owner seemingly unwilling to invest much money in the club, Newcastle struggled when Benitez was at the helm. How are they going to fare with Bruce in charge?
You can't always wait for the right time to manage your favourite club but if there was ever a moment to steer clear of Newcastle this would appear to be it. They're tipped for relegation and fans are openly protesting against Mike Ashley, it's unlikely to be a fun place to work.
Perhaps the only positive apparent with the Newcastle job is that they are still in the Premier League, but the manager and players who kept them there have just gone.
With the sale of Ayoze Perez and the departure of Salomon Rondon a pair of players who scored 23 Premier League goals between them last season are out. That's 23 out of Newcastle's entire tally of 42 in their last campaign.
The highest scorer still at the club is Fabian Schar, a centre back who netted four times last season, followed by fellow centre back Ciaran Clark on three. The now sold Joselu scored two, leaving Matt Richie as the only other player in the squad to score more than once in the league last season.
The Counter Claim:
However, managers have to back themselves to succeed or they may as well not be working and Bruce will back himself to succeed at St James' Park against the odds.
He's used to taking over clubs in perilous situations, so the seemingly endless disasters that keep streaming out of Newcastle are something he ought to be well accustomed to.
Bruce has a reputation for being a manager that shores up the defence and has struggling teams playing unexciting but functional football. With the squad Newcastle have there aren't many other options for their playing style.
Fans are still lamenting the departure of Benitez and rightly so, the Spaniard was an excellent coach who stuck by the club after their relegation, took them back up to the Premier League and fought to improve things.
They ought to give Bruce a chance based off the results he earns rather than the reputation he has. Yes, he used to manage hated rivals Sunderland and yes he's not Rafa Benitez but he at the very least deserves a chance to show he can make something of the job.
The manager was first linked with taking over at Newcastle all the way back in 2006 after Graeme Souness was sacked, but the job went to Glenn Roeder.
Bruce's Premier League statistics don't make for encouraging reading among Newcastle fans, particularly after they've just had Rafa Benitez.
He's an experienced manager, having helmed 392 Premier League games, but he only takes on average 1.12 points per game, scoring 1.03 goals a game and conceding at a rate of 1.31 per game. His career win percentage is 38.5 per cent and he stays in a job for an average of 708 days.
Perhaps more worrying for Newcastle fans is how little he spends on players in the transfer market, with his record signing being Asamoah Gyan to Sunderland for a fee "in excess of £13 million". The amount of times Bruce has spent more than £10 million on a player could be counted on one hand, he might be ideally suited to Mike Ashley's penny pinching.
Sheffield Wednesday are also very angry at Bruce's departure, having insisted there are "outstanding legal issues" to be resolved. Bruce and his staff resigned but Wednesday expected Newcastle to pay £6 million in compensation.