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Newcastle fans were in no mood to mourn Steve Bruce’s departure after his ill-fated reign drew to a close on Wednesday.
There was backing for Bruce from current and former players, but supporters’ groups dismayed by his appointment as Rafael Benitez’s successor during the summer of 2019 insisted his exit in the wake of Sunday’s 3-2 Premier League defeat by Tottenham – his 1,000th game as a manager – was inevitable.
Joe Moore, a spokesperson for Toon For Change, told the PA news agency: “It’s been long overdue, to be honest. He was really the uninvited guest at the party on Sunday and it’s been a dark cloud hanging over what is seemingly a bright future.
“The reason so many people didn’t want him from the start was because his record speaks for itself. It’s 1,000 games of failure and mediocrity.”
Bruce parted company with the club he supported as a boy after 25 months at the helm having endured intense and sustained criticism, with many fans calling for his head once again at the weekend in the first fixture under the club’s new owners.
But asked if he had any sympathy for the former Manchester United defender, Moore said: “There’s an argument to be had for the human side, but ultimately we just look at Steve Bruce as a manager and to be blunt, he hasn’t been good enough.”
Greg Tomlinson, chair of the Newcastle United Supporters Trust, which conducted a poll earlier this month in which 94.3 per cent of more than 5,000 respondents called for Bruce to stand down, was equally emphatic.
“Don’t ever give up on your club. Keep supporting it, it’s your club and, trust me, one day you will get your club back and it will be everything you wanted it to be” https://t.co/Af3bllJjrF
— NUFC Supporters Trust (NUST) (@nufctrust) October 20, 2021
He told the PA news agency: “I don’t think any Newcastle fans would have wanted any manager at a lower-end Championship club with a poor Premier League record to come and manage the club after Rafa Benitez left.
“It was the wrong appointment at the wrong time. It’s got nothing to do with it being Steve Bruce. His track record isn’t what should have been appointed.
“Nobody has been willing him to fail, but we’ve been judging him on what we see in front of us and it’s not been good enough.”
The search for a replacement is already well under way and Tomlinson knows making the right appointment is imperative.
It has been an honour and a privilege to have you as a coach, thank you Steve 🤝❤ pic.twitter.com/9zZm46hC48
— Allan Saint-Maximin (@asaintmaximin) October 20, 2021
He said: “There are some good players there in that squad and it needs someone who can organise the team and get results really quickly and get us through to January in a strong position because being relegated straight after the takeover would be an absolute catastrophe, and we are in a perilous place right now.”
If fans were happy to see the back of Bruce, star striker Allan Saint-Maximin thanked the the 60-year-old for his efforts during their time together.
In a series of posts on his Twitter account, the Frenchman said: “It has been an honour and a privilege to have you as a coach, thank you Steve.
“You are, without a doubt, one of the most gentle people that I have ever met in the world of football. You have been a man of your word, a caring man and a fair man who never hesitated to protect us.
I know how tough it was for any manager at Newcastle for the last 14 years.I also know how badly Steve & his family wanted it to work. In difficult circumstances for everybody, he kept #NUFC up for two seasons. It’s a new era now, but thank you, Steve,for your effort & commitment
— Alan Shearer (@alanshearer) October 20, 2021
“I will never forget how you treated me, for that I will be forever grateful.”
There was support too from former Newcastle captain Alan Shearer, who thanked Bruce for keeping the club in the Premier League while working under the restraints imposed by former owner Mike Ashley.
He wrote on social media: “I know how tough it was for any manager at Newcastle for the last 14 years.
“I also know how badly Steve & his family wanted it to work. In difficult circumstances for everybody, he kept #NUFC up for two seasons.
“It’s a new era now, but thank you, Steve, for your effort & commitment.”
Ex-Newcastle defender Steve Howey told Sky Sports News Bruce’s exit was “inevitable” but added that much of the criticism he had faced from fans was over the top.
“Yes, you get criticism when results don’t go your way, but I thought some of it was way over the top and uncalled for because it was personal,” he said.
“But Steve will come back. He can have a break with his lovely family and come back refreshed and look for another challenge.”
In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Bruce said Newcastle may prove to be his last job in football, revealing the toll taken by the abuse he received, saying he was called “a fat waste of space, a stupid, tactically inept cabbage-head or whatever”.
Reacting to those comments, former Newcastle midfielder Lee Clark told Sky Sports News: “I think being criticised for how you go about your job professionally is not a problem if you don’t get results, but a lot of it turned quite personal, it was about his family.
“You could see it in Steve, his dream job was becoming his nightmare job. It was very tough not just for him but for his family and in some ways he’ll be happy it’s now over.”