On Sunday, when Newcastle invite Tottenham to St. James’ Park, this dismal and disappointing season will resume after a two-week international break. While you generally don’t want to stew for too long after a performance like the one Newcastle put in at Brighton, the 15 days between matches did provide some advantages.
First and foremost, it allowed our injured stars some extra recovery time. While Callum Wilson is still another week away, all signs point to Allan Saint-Maximin at least returning to the bench on Sunday. Miguel Almiron, who was rushed back for Brighton, should be fully fit for Spurs.
After the Brighton defeat, Newcastle were quick to throw their support behind embattled head coach Steve Bruce. It seems the two weeks since the awful 3-0 thrashing at the Amex has only served to strengthen Ashley’s resolve.
Recent reports have suggested that no replacement has been identified despite claims that Chris Wilder, Giovanni van Bronckhorst, and Eddie Howe would be interested should the position become available.
However, the ever-stubborn Ashley remains committed to the head coach he selected to replace Rafa Benitez two summers ago. According to a report in The Telegraph, that will remain the case beyond this season if Bruce manages to keep Newcastle up.
Luke Edwards also suggests that Bruce could be offered an extension this summer as his contract runs out after next season. Edwards theorizes that Ashley could even offer improved terms though with a much less compensation package.
Newcastle’s tenuous league position has hampered planning for next season. An empty St. James’ Park for this entire campaign has also severely cut any transfer budget this summer. Though Bruce has been involved in the minimal recruitment plans that have taken place.
Edwards says the current plan is for Bruce to see out the rest of this season. Though that is not etched in stone as another performance like the one at Brighton could produce a change of heart from Ashley.
However, while Bruce boasted of a top ten push before this season, his remit has been to keep Newcastle in the Premier League. Despite flirting with disaster, if Bruce keeps Newcastle safe for a second season, he will have satisfied his boss’s extremely low expectations.