Steve Bruce has finally been sacked as head coach of Newcastle United by their new Saudi-backed owners, nearly two weeks after they bought the club.
The consortium had intended to remove the 60-year-old last week before their opening match against Spurs, knowing that to leave him in post risked the atmosphere turning toxic inside St James’ Park.
That is exactly how it played out as supporters again turned on Bruce during a 3-2 defeat, after which captain Jamaal Lascelles and team-mate Isaac Hayden had to be pulled apart by staff when they clashed in the tunnel area.
The new owners knew that the situation could not be allowed to fester any longer and it was confirmed on Wednesday morning that Bruce had left the club by ‘mutual consent’. As revealed by Sportsmail, he will pocket £8million in compensation.
Graeme Jones is set to take temporary charge for Saturday’s trip to Crystal Palace before a permanent appointment is made. The Magpies are currently second bottom in the Premier League and without a win in eight matches.
A club statement read: ‘Newcastle United can confirm that Steve Bruce has left his position as head coach by mutual consent.
‘He leaves the Magpies after more than two years in charge, having steered the club to 13th and 12th- place finishes in the Premier League and reaching the quarter-final stage in both the Emirates FA Cup and Carabao Cup during his tenure.
Steve Bruce has been sacked as Newcastle manager by the club’s new Saudi-backed owners
Bruce’s axing is the first big decision new director Amanda Staveley (pictured with husband and fellow director Mehrdad Ghodoussi) and the new Saudi-led consortium have made
NEWCASTLE MANAGER ODDS
7/4 – Paulo Fonseca
4/1 – Lucien Favre
6/1 – Eddie Howe
16/1 – Steven Gerrard
16/1 – Frank Lampard
25/1 – Roberto Martinez
25/1 – Fabio Cannavaro
25/1 – Brendan Rodgers
25/1 – Unai Emery
33/1 Jose Mourinho
33/1 Andre Villas-Boas
33/1 – Antonio Conte
20-1 – Zinedine Zidane
66/1 – Graeme Jones
‘Newcastle United would like to place on record its gratitude to Steve for his contribution and wishes him well for the future.
‘Graeme Jones will lead the team on an interim basis, starting with Saturday’s trip to Crystal Palace, and will be supported by the coaching team of Steve Agnew, Stephen Clemence, Ben Dawson and Simon Smith.
‘The process of recruiting a new head coach is under way and an appointment will be announced in due course.’
Bruce said: ‘I am grateful to everyone connected with Newcastle United for the opportunity to manage this unique football club.
‘I would like to thank my coaching team, the players and the support staff in particular for all their hard work. There have been highs and lows, but they have given everything even in difficult moments and should be proud of their efforts.
‘This is a club with incredible support, and I hope the new owners can take it forward to where we all want it to be. I wish everyone the very best of luck for the rest of this season and beyond.’
Meanwhile, in an interview with The Telegraph, Bruce said: ‘I think this might be my last job. It’s not just about me; it’s taken its toll on my whole family because they are all Geordies and I can’t ignore that. They have been worried about me… especially my wife Jan.
Bruce has thanked his wife Jan for her support after being axed by the club’s new owners
Bruce was allowed to complete his 1,000th game in management but his fate was sealed
Former Borussia Dortmund coach Lucien Favre is being considered as Bruce’s replacement
Rangers boss Steven Gerrard is also on the Magpies’ shortlist of candidates for the job
Bruce is pictured taking training last week in his final days in charge of his boyhood club
Graeme Jones will lead Newcastle until a permanent new boss is appointed
‘By the time I got to Newcastle, I thought I could handle everything thrown at me but it has been very, very tough. To never really be wanted, to feel that people wanted me to fail, to read people constantly saying I would fail, that I was useless, a fat waste of space, a stupid, tactically inept cabbage head or whatever.
‘I tried to enjoy it and, you know, I did. I’ve always enjoyed the fight, proving people wrong. I was so proud to be manager of Newcastle United, even in the dark times.
‘The only task I was given was to keep the club up. There wasn’t the money to overhaul the squad. ‘I did my best, I will leave it to other people to judge whether I did ok or not.’
Former Borussia Dortmund boss Lucien Favre and Rangers manager Steven Gerrard are among those to have been considered as replacements for Bruce.
Liverpool legend Gerrard, who won the Scottish title last season, refused to rule himself out of contention when asked about replacing Bruce last week.
‘I think it’s interesting, what’s happening at Newcastle,’ he said.
‘I think if anyone deserves a break it’s the Geordie fans. So I’m sure that excitement levels are very high down on the Toon.
‘And obviously everyone connected with the game is looking in with interest, to see how that develops.’
Newcastle fans were overjoyed by the club’s £305m takeover, which was signed off this month
Bruce, 60, had been in charge of the Magpies since the start of the 2019-20 season
There has been widespread fan fury at Bruce’s management of the inconsistent team
Last week, Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers ruled himself out of the running for the job, amid interest from Newcastle’s new owners.
The former Liverpool and Celtic manager said: ‘I’ve got a contract until 2025.
‘I absolutely love being here. I’m very fortunate. I have a great chief executive, a director of football I have a very close relationship with and a group of players that I really enjoy working with.
‘We have an infrastructure here which allows us to look to compete. So for me, as long as they don’t want to move me, then I’m very happy being here.
‘I’ve seen all the reports about it and, of course, it doesn’t help anyone – in particular Newcastle and Steve (Bruce).
‘Unfortunately it’s the type of week I don’t like in the modern game. All the managers and coaches work hard to do the best for our teams and then we have speculation and gossip which goes around and it can destabilise supporters and maybe players.
‘It doesn’t benefit anyone at all. For me thankfully I’ve been in the game long enough now to just focus on my job and my role. As I say, I’m very happy here, to do that.’
Sportsmail revealed in a special report in September that Bruce fell out with some players. He angered Magpies fans last month when he said he wants to keep the club ‘ticking along’
Staveley and Co celebrated an early goal but ultimately lost their first game at the helm
Newcastle are struggling and have few quality players, such as Allan Saint-Maximin (pictured)