Steve Bruce has finally been sacked as head coach of Newcastle United by their new Saudi-backed owners, nearly two weeks after they bought the club.
The consortium knew that to leave him in post for last Sunday’s home game with Spurs risked spoiling the carnival atmosphere inside St James’ Park, yet they allowed him to complete his 1,000th career game in management, which ended in a 3-2 defeat by Tottenham.
Bruce is set to pocket £8million in compensation as he departs his boyhood club.
The group always intended to part company with Bruce, but only after arriving on Tyneside last week and seeking the opinion of those already on the ground did they realise the negative impact his presence could have.
Bruce’s departure is the first major football decision made by the Saudi-led consortium that now owns the club, after their £305million takeover was approved by the Premier League and confirmed on October 8.
A club statement released on social media on Wednesday morning read: ‘#NUFC can confirm that Steve Bruce has left his position as head coach by mutual consent. The club would like to place on record its gratitude to Steve for his contribution and wishes him well for the future.’
Steve Bruce has been sacked as Newcastle manager by the club’s new Saudi-backed owners
Bruce’s axing is the first big decision new director Amanda Staveley (pictured with husband and fellow director Mehrdad Ghodoussi) and the new Saudi-led consortium have made
Bruce was allowed to complete his 1,000th game in management but his fate was sealed
New club director Amanda Staveley and her advisors have a shortlist within a longer list of names identified as his potential replacement, but that appointment could take some time to finalise.
Former Borussia Dortmund boss Lucien Favre is one of those under consideration, as well as Rangers boss Steven Gerrard. Brendan Rodgers was another name mentioned but the Leicester manager is holding out for the Manchester City job in 18 months’ time.
Favre, 63, has been out of work since leaving Dortmund last December and turned down an offer from Crystal Palace in June, but it is thought he is now ready to return to management.
Assistant head coach Graeme Jones is set to be put in temporary charge. Jones was part of England’s Euro 2020 coaching staff led by Gareth Southgate over the summer.
Sources told Sportsmail last week the new owners have spoken to several in and around the club and know that an immediate change in management would aid the team, who are winless and second bottom of the Premier League table.
Bruce, 60, is now owed an £8million pay-off for Newcastle terminating his contract early. He signed a three-year deal when he first joined the club in 2019 under mike Ashley’s ownership, but the now former Magpies boss insisted that his deal ran on for longer than the end of this campaign.
After visiting the club’s training ground for the first time last week, Staveley’s priority is identifying key appointments in positions such as chief executive and sporting director, as well as manager.
Only then can they press ahead with solid recruitment plans for the January transfer window – Newcastle’s first chance to show their new financial muscle to the football world.
Former Borussia Dortmund coach Lucien Favre is being considered as Bruce’s replacement
Rangers boss Steven Gerrard is also at the top of the Magpies’ shortlist of candidates
Bruce is pictured taking training last week in his final days in charge of his boyhood club
Graeme Jones is now in line to lead Newcastle until a permanent new boss is appointed
And with squad places at a premium — the 25 slots are already filled — there is the distinct possibility of several players being left out for the rest of the season. That prospect could well incentivise some to up their performances before the new year.
Meanwhile, managing director Lee Charnley could stay on for slightly longer than the anticipated brief handover after meeting with the new owners.
He has an in-depth knowledge of the club and, while seen by supporters as Ashley’s man, is valued as a good operator.
Magpies fan Bruce was appointed as Newcastle manager in July 2019 following the departure of popular boss Rafa Benitez as head coach.
His time at St James’ Park began with fan revolt due to his history of managing arch-rivals Sunderland in the Premier League, with the Magpies’ recent relegation battles failing to win over supporters during his time in the north East.
Bruce was given some financial backing by Ashley and the Newcastle board, as his high-profile signings included strikers Allan Saint-Maximin, Joelinton and Callum Wilson, who arrived for a combined total of nearly £100m, while young English talents Joe Willock and Jamal Lewis were brought in for £40m for the pair.
Newcastle fans were overjoyed by the club’s £305m takeover, which was signed off this month
Bruce, 60, had been in charge of the Magpies since the start of the 2019-20 season
There has been widespread fan fury at Bruce’s management of the inconsistent team
But on-the-pitch performances under Bruce were inconsistent. The 60-year-old ended his Newcastle career with a win ratio of just 29 per cent – the lowest of his career.
No Newcastle manager to have spent more than 12 months at the club has managed a lower win percentage than Bruce.
The former Manchester United captain and defender also had a strained relationship with the club’s players, with Sportsmail revealing several clashes between players earlier this season.
A heated inquest took place in the dressing room following last month’s 4-1 defeat at Manchester United, with Bruce telling midfielder Isaac Hayden — playing at centre back — that he should have done more to prevent Cristiano Ronaldo running off him to score his second goal.
Sportsmail revealed in a special report in September that Bruce fell out with some players. He angered Magpies fans last month when he said he wants to keep the club ‘ticking along’
Sportsmail were also told there was player resentment at the lack of structure in the training schedule, much like the concerns raised last season over what some felt were excessive days off.
The Newcastle players also felt the training schedule was set to suit Bruce and not the rest of the team.
Bruce also angered Newcastle supporters earlier this year when he revealed his plans for the club were to ‘keep it ticking along’ in the Premier League and not show any ambition to take the Magpies forward.
Staveley and Co celebrated an early goal but ultimately lost their first game at the helm
Newcastle are struggling and have few quality players, such as Allan Saint-Maximin (pictured)
‘Look, it’s a challenge at the minute,’ he said in September. ‘I’ve said now since I walked through the door two years ago, I’m not going to be everybody’s cup of tea, but I will, with my experience, hope that I can keep the club just ticking along and make sure that the club stays where it is and we maintain our Premier League status.
‘I know for a lot of people – and there’s the frustration – we should be better than that. That’s where we are at the moment and we have been for a while, and that’s everybody’s frustration.
‘I want Newcastle to be at the top of the league, so that frustration is there. But I don’t think about, “Oh, the noise is too bad, walk away, Steve”. That’s not in my nature when it gets tough.’