“Bruce enjoyed a timely victory away at Tottenham Hotspur last weekend. In fact, it was probably Newcastle’s best away result since their last promotion - not even Benitez won at a top-six venue. At any other club such a result early in a reign would be universally acknowledged as reassuring - the first step in winning over fans. Instead, Bruce’s moment of triumph seemed to be received with as much cynicism as jubilitation. He won using Rafa’s tactics, was one of the more ridiculous accusations directed at Bruce after the Spurs win, as though setting up a team to be defensively organised and steal a goal on the counter-attack is some kind of radical blueprint. If managers like Rafa are to be heaped with praise for executing such a plan against the best teams in the country, it is hypocritical not to do likewise for Bruce. Judge the game, not the man.
“If I was a Newcastle supporter I would feel similarly underwhelmed by Ashley’s choice of coach. The 20 Premier League jobs are among the most sought after in the world and - with respect to Bruce - Newcastle fans will have looked around Europe and considered there must be a candidate out there who would have caught their imagination more than an ex-Sunderland manager. Had an up-and-coming manager such as Steven Gerrard or Patrick Vieira been convinced to take on the challenge there would have been a buzz similar to Frank Lampard’s return to Chelsea."