Exclusive: Steve Bruce will not be sacked by Newcastle despite frantic day of meetings

Steve Bruce will not be sacked as Newcastle United manager despite a frantic day of meetings with club officials after a survey in a local paper suggested 95% of fans wanted him to go.

The Newcastle head coach had a series of talks at the training ground on Monday, including with managing director Lee Charnley, but the club showed no sign of any desire to remove Bruce. Many key figures at the club are now expressing a growing belief Bruce will stay in charge until the end of the season while the manager is believed to have stressed his determination to continue despite intense and sustained criticism of both him and owner Mike Ashley. 

More than a week has passed since Newcastle were comprehensively outplayed in a 3-0 defeat at Brighton and Hove Albion, the team sitting directly above them in the table. 

It left Bruce’s side fourth from bottom, just two points better off than a Fulham team, led by a confident sounding manager, Scott Parker.

Bruce has thought long and hard about his position since the Brighton defeat but is adamant he will not walk away from the fight and does not feel there is anyone who can replace him who would do a better job in the current circumstances.

As a result, the 60-year-old will not yield in the face of supporter and local media pressure to quit.

It is understood that the impending return of top goalscorer Callum Wilson and playmaker Allan Saint-Maximin have raised confidence levels.

Sources close to the former Manchester United captain have strenuously denied he is only staying because he is waiting for the pay off that will come if he is sacked. 

That compensation payment is thought to be in the region of £4m, but Bruce does not need the money and intends to still be in charge of the team at the start of next season, having kept them in the Premier League.

Bruce has not got things right often enough this season and although performances had improved before the disgracefully limp display at Brighton, three defeats in seven games has not been balanced enough by one win and three draws.

The excuses are not there to defend him, the mitigating circumstances of a severe Covid outbreak in the autumn and injuries to key players are not persuasive enough to explain why they have allowed a ten-point cushion between themselves and the drop zone to be eroded to just two.

Nevertheless, the mood inside the training ground, which has taken on a siege mentality this week with staff trying to block out the outside noise and players told to stay off social media, was said to be upbeat and determined.

The fact the Newcastle Chronicle conducted its survey in the aftermath of the Brighton debacle led to predictable animosity towards Bruce, with 95% of the 12,000 fans who answered making their opposition to his continued employment clear.

Asked whether Newcastle would be relegated if Bruce remained in charge, 92% answered yes, although 50% said they did not think a change in manager would save the club from relegation either.

The level of unrest around the club was summed up by the fact that more people (53%) blamed Ashley for how badly things have gone this season, with Bruce picking up 34% of the vote. The players received just 6%.

Whether the situation would be different if supporters were allowed inside St James’ Park is a moot point as they are unlikely to be able to attend games until May at the earliest, by which time Newcastle’s relegation fate will have been all but decided.

Certainly, such is the level of toxicity on Tyneside, fans would have made their feelings clear long before this, with many seeing the Carabao Cup quarter final defeat to Brentford in December and the 1-0 defeat to Sheffield United in January as the tipping point.

Had fans been in the ground, it may well have forced Ashley to act and it could even have been too much for Bruce to put up with if the anger towards him began to affect the players on the pitch.

But with matches continuing behind closed doors for the foreseeable future, there is no appetite to make a change in the dugout.

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