During the Chronicle’s Q&A yesterday, journalist Lee Ryder was asked some questions about the Mike Ashley, Lee Charnley, and Steve Bruce. It was reported on Monday that Bruce met with Lee Charnley briefly after the Leicester game.
The news after the Leicester game was that Steve Bruce’s job is safe for the time being. Ryder expounded on that meeting when asked during the Q&A:
It’s not usually something that happens after an away game. In the past Charnley has deemed it as not a great time to speak to the head coach amidst media duties and team debriefs.
It is a busy time for the head coach after a game as the team bus is usually waiting to set off for the airport.
But Charnley spent time with Bruce so it was serious enough to either relay a message from above (Ashley) or indicate that standards had slipped below the expected level.
While it’s likely that Steve Bruce will get at least until the end of the year, a disastrous performance against Manchester United would see most clubs give serious consideration to getting someone else in. It is right before the international break and would give a new head coach two weeks to prepare with the squad. As we have found out for twelve years, Mike Ashley does not run Newcastle like most clubs.
Lee Ryder was asked what he thought would be the point at which Ashley would consider replacing Steve Bruce. His answer was far from comforting:
If Mike Ashley was to fire the head coach now it would be a vote of no confidence in the club’s own decision-making process.
They have just paid millions in compensation to secure his release from Sheff Wed and they’d have to pay out again if they terminated his three-year deal.
I honestly think that Bruce would have to be nine or 10 points adrift in the relegation zone before they decided to hit the panic button.
Mike Ashley is exceptionally stubborn and will likely wait until it is too late to accept that he made a mistake. The fact that he paid compensation for Steve Bruce will make it even harder for him to accept that Bruce was the wrong choice. As Lee Ryder points out, it’s not only the compensation he’s already paid, but it is exacerbated by what he will have to pay Steve Bruce if he gets axed.
This has the makings of the Steve McClaren saga all over again. Our hopes, which were distant to begin with, are quickly fading that Steve Bruce can get the best out of these players. He asked to be judged by results and while it is still early, the results are less than acceptable. To add to the lack of points, the statistics under Bruce have been pathetic.
If Steve Bruce can’t get a performance out of the players this weekend after all of the talk from the players, then it will be time to put serious consideration into who can.