His departure was an inevitability in so many ways. And, frankly, this is probably a case of perfect timing too.
Steve Bruce was sacked by Newcastle United on Wednesday morning after a period of rabid speculation over his future. The new ownership at the club were always likely to make their move sooner rather than later, and delaying the sideshow that was Sackwatch any longer would have been in nobody’s interest.
The Magpies sit 19th in the Premier League table following Sunday’s 3-2 home defeat to Tottenham Hotspur, which was a landmark 1000th game in Bruce’s managerial career. But now that he has cleared that particular hurdle it is best for all sides to move on.
Newcastle have a bright new future to embark upon. Twelve days on from their takeover, the PIF-led consortium have the opportunity to appoint a new leader who will spearhead their assault on the very top of the European game. Looking at Bruce’s record over the past 25 years, that person was never likely to be him.
What he has been put through over the past fortnight has been to the eternal shame of the modern game. The speculation over his position was unavoidable, but the level of scrutiny his every move commanded, from leaving his house to arriving at the Magpies’ training ground, complete with ‘man turns up for work’ news flashes, made life pretty much unbearable for Bruce.
Of course, there are those who will have little sympathy for the 60-year-old. In a 10-club managerial career, he has walked out on Sheffield United after one season, Wigan Athletic after eight games, and both Crystal Palace and Sheffield Wednesday just 18 matches in, the latter following the club’s display of understanding in allowing him a month’s hiatus prior to taking the job in order to fulfil a holiday commitment.
Exactly who is likely to give Bruce another chance is anyone’s guess at this stage, but Newcastle are now swimming in very different waters. Names like Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard have been pushed by some, but they can now realistically approach the likes of Lucien Favre, Antonio Conte, Unai Emery and Zinedine Zidane with a vision which might just entice them to take the hotseat. Betfred even have Favre as the 3/1 second favourite to take the job behind Paulo Fonseca at 6/4.
Whereas former owner Mike Ashley chose Steve Bruce as a safe bet following the departure of Rafa Benitez in 2019, Newcastle and Bruce are now heading in different directions. Anything is possible at St James’ Park, but it would have been hard to suggest that was the case if the former Manchester United defender had been strung on any longer.
Over the last 12 days, the club has outgrown its former image to the point that it is almost unrecognisable. The squad will have to remain the same until January, but we should expect a complete transformation in coming windows, and realistically speaking any decision to keep Bruce in charge would only have made the speedy pursuit of greatness more difficult.
Now that Bruce has his 1000 games under his belt, Newcastle can reasonably believe they have done right by him. The next step is to make an appointment that will turn them from relegation contenders into title contenders.
With the inevitable having happened, the possibilities are now endless.