Belfast Telegraph

Bruce has sympathy for Pardew

Steve Bruce knows better than most what it feels like to be hounded out of the North East, but that will not stop the Hull boss trying to turn up the heat on Alan Pardew with a "mercenary" win over Newcastle.

Saturday's clash at St James' Park is set to be dominated by fan protests against Pardew's leadership, with the man himself admitting he anticipates "mass hysteria" from disgruntled supporters.

A fifth Barclays Premier League match without a win might even make his position untenable, though all parties insist a parting of the ways is not on the cards.

For Bruce it presents a difficult situation.

He feels for his opposite number, having been jeered out of the door at neighbouring Sunderland three years ago, but as a Geordie and boyhood Newcastle fan has also been touted as a possible successor.

He has already gone on record branding that speculation as "disrespectful" with Pardew still in a job, but is not above turning the negative atmosphere at Newcastle to Hull's advantage.

"I know what he's going through after being in the North East and it's not easy. It's not an easy place to manage," he said.

"We all understand it's a results-based business but some of the nonsense that goes with it, I have to say, is ridiculous.

"Unfortunately with the way social media is and the way the media is there is a huge appetite for what we call nonsense. It comes with the territory, but you have to say in the North East it seems to quadruple: when there's a crisis, there's a crisis, and I suppose that comes from the huge support they have got.

"It's a difficult, difficult place to manage. But we have to try and take advantage of that, of course we do. We have to be mercenary enough to try and do that.

"The other stuff is not enjoyable to watch from afar. Over the years he's done a decent job has Alan but I think that's the nature of the beast, especially in the North East, and I can say that because I'm from there."

Bruce certainly does not give the impression of a man desperate to inherit the reins at his childhood club but he considers the very question to be in poor taste.

He said: "I was appalled when I read all that nonsense, but what can I do about it? I've done my best to try and calm the whole situation.

"It seems to be because I'm a Geordie, that every time the job comes up since 2002 I'm linked with it because I'm from there and it's the team I supported as a boy. That will never change, but as for all the other nonsense I find it hugely disrespectful."

As if they were needed, there could yet be two additional sub-plots to the match.

Pardew was handed a seven-game ban for headbutting Hull's David Meyler on the touchline last season, though the midfielder's slide down the pecking order means the pair may not come into such close contact this time.

And if Meyler is in the stands rather than in the matchday squad, he will be joined by Hatem Ben Arfa, who was sent on loan from Newcastle to Hull after falling sorely out of favour with Pardew.

Most Magpies fans would probably have preferred the player to have outlasted his manager and his presence should whip up added resentment.

Bruce, though, was keen to clear up two things - that Ben Arfa would not be sitting alongside him in the dugout and had no option to end his loan should there be a managerial change at United.

"Let me put this straight. Apparently what I'm hearing is he's sitting on the bench next to me," said Bruce.

"He's going to sit in the seat that Newcastle give him. If they want to sit him on top of the stand that's where they can put him.

"I've heard all the other nonsense as well but it's a normal loan deal like everyone else has got, no breaks, nothing at all."

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