Former Newcastle United boss Graeme Souness has suggested that Mike Ashley is “sticking two fingers up” at the club’s supporters by keeping Steve Bruce.
Bruce is in his second season at Newcastle and his predecessor was the highly popular Rafael Benitez. They had a steady season last year as they ended up finishing 13th in the top flight.
Newcastle also made a decent start to this campaign, as they were well clear of the drop zone before the turn of the year.
But they have plummed down the table since their 5-2 loss to Leeds United in December. They have won just two games so far in 2021.
Bruce’s side are two points clear of the bottom three, but they have a game in hand over nearest rivals Fulham.
The Chronicle have conducted a poll that asked supporters whether they would like Bruce to leave. Of the 14,000 that responded, 95% wanted Newcastle to sack their manager.
Souness told Sky Sports that Bruce is “lucky” to keep his job:
“Having been at the football club, I understand the pressures involved.
“I hate talking about managers losing their jobs. I know Steve Bruce, good guy, but I think he’s lucky to hold on to his job. It’s as if Mike Ashley is sticking two fingers up at the supporters.
“If 95% say they want a change, most boards would make that change. If there were people in the stadium, I think that change would have been made.
“Right now, I think Mike Ashley is saying ‘nope, you can have all the polls you want, I’m not making a change’, but it’s a high-risk strategy. I don’t know what the numbers are but it’s a big difference in pounds, shilling and pence.
“It’s a big, big number if they go down and don’t come back up but that’s the call he’s making right now.
Speaking during his latest press conference, Bruce insisted that he did not take any notice to the poll:
“Look, I’ve said many, many times, everybody is entitled to their opinion. I really can’t take any notice on polls.
“All I can focus on is Tottenham at the weekend and getting the squad as best prepared I possibly can, not take any notice of any polls.”