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'Tactically inept cabbage head' - Bruce says Newcastle job ‘probably’ his last after abuse

The 60-year-old was appointed as Rafael Benitez’s replacement in July 2019.

Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce.
Image: Alamy Stock Photo

STEVE BRUCE NEVER felt wanted at Newcastle from the start and says he will “probably” turn his back on football management for good after revealing the extent of the abuse he received throughout his reign.

The 60-year-old Geordie parted ways with the Magpies on Wednesday after clinging on to what may be his last job against the odds for almost a fortnight following the Saudi-led takeover on 7 October.

As he did so, he hit out at his detractors, who he believes never gave him a chance during his 25 months in charge.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, he said: “By the time I got to Newcastle, I thought I could handle everything thrown at me, but it has been very, very tough.

“To never really be wanted, to feel that people wanted me to fail, to read people constantly saying I would fail, that I was useless, a fat waste of space, a stupid, tactically inept cabbage head or whatever. And it was from day one.

“When we were doing OK results-wise, it was, ‘Yeah, but the style of football is rubbish’ or I was just ‘lucky’. It was ridiculous and persistent, even when the results were good.

“I tried to enjoy it and, you know, I did. I’ve always enjoyed the fight, proving people wrong, but that’s all it ever seemed to be. A fight, a battle. It does take its toll because even when you win a game, you don’t feel like you are winning over the supporters.”

Bruce also revealed the toll the experience had taken on him and his family, and in particular his wife Jan.

“It’s not just about me; it’s taken its toll on my whole family because they are all Geordies and I can’t ignore that,” he said.

“They have been worried about me, especially my wife Jan. What an amazing woman she is, incredible, she’s just a fantastic woman, wife and mother and grandmother. She dealt with the death of my parents, hers have not been very well. And then she had me to worry about and what I’ve been going through the last couple of years.

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“I can’t take her for granted, she has spent her whole life following me around from football club to football club and if I was to say to her tomorrow, I’ve been offered a job in China, or anywhere, she would say, ‘Steve, is this right for you, do you want to do it?’ And she’d back me again.

“I’m 60 years old and I don’t know if I want to put her through it again. We’ve got a good life so, yeah, this will probably be me done as a manager – until I get a phone call from a chairman somewhere asking if I can give them a hand. Never say never, I’ve learnt that.”

Bruce’s departure was announced in a statement issued three days after his final game – his 1,000th as a manager – ended in a 3-2 Premier League defeat by Tottenham at St James’ Park during which non-executive chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan heard for himself concerted calls from large sections of the crowd for the former Manchester United defender to go.

Assistant Graeme Jones will take charge of the team for Saturday’s trip to Crystal Palace with the Magpies having won none of their opening eight league fixtures and sitting 19th in the table.

In the meantime, the consortium put together by Amanda Staveley will step up its efforts to land a replacement with former Roma boss Paulo Fonseca having leapt to the head of the bookmakers’ odds in the last 24 hours ahead of Lucien Favre, Eddie Howe and Steven Gerrard.

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