Former Newcastle captain Alan Shearer has thanked Steve Bruce for keeping the club in the Premier League while working under the restraints imposed by former owner Mike Ashley.
While many fans celebrated the news of Bruce’s exit from St James’ Park on Wednesday morning as Newcastle’s new ownership began to reshape the club, Shearer used social media to pay tribute to the outgoing manager.
“I know how tough it was for any manager at Newcastle for the last 14 years,” Shearer wrote.
“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.”
Bruce’s departure had been expected since the Saudi Arabian-backed consortium completed their takeover of the club a little under two weeks ago.
Though he took charge of Sunday’s 3-2 home defeat to Tottenham – his 1,000th game as a manager – Bruce made it clear himself he knew the clock was ticking.
Bruce had guided Newcastle to 13th and 12th placed finishes during his two full seasons in charge, but had long been unpopular with the fans, with criticism only increasing amid a winless start to this season which has left the Magpies second bottom in the table.
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.
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 personalSteve Howey on Steve Bruce
“Steve Bruce himself was more or less realistic about the situation,” he said. “We all know when new owners come in they will be looking to change things around and that includes the manager.
“It might have been slightly different if results had been decent but a lot of Newcastle fans had lost patience with the manager purely and simply because results have not been great. I think it was something like seven wins in the last 37 and we haven’t won this season…
“It comes as no surprise. Steve was very spiky, and fair play to him, when he did his interviews with the press on Friday and it will hurt because some of the criticism overstepped the mark for me.
“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.
“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: “It’s very difficult (to read). It was quite emotional actually. You don’t want any manager to be put through that.
“I think being criticised for how you go about you 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.”