Steve Bruce will be given until January to turn things around at Newcastle United, ex-Arsenal striker John Hartson believes.
In an exclusive interview with Football FanCast, the Welshman claimed Bruce will get a few more months, but if the Magpies are in the relegation zone by the turn of the year, Mike Ashley could “panic” and sack him.
Newcastle have earned just eight points from eight games, and, aside from the 1-0 victory over struggling Manchester United last weekend, their fans haven’t had much to cheer about.
On how long Steve Bruce has to turn the club around, Hartson said: “I know Steve, he’s a really really top bloke, says it like it is, doesn’t make excuses, he’s honest, he just needs his players now to step up and to give it everything.
“I think Bruce will get a bit more time, another three or four months until January. If Newcastle are rock bottom or in the bottom three then Mike Ashley might decide to do something and panic.
“But he’ll get the next three or four months to try and get Newcastle on some sort of run.”
Mike Ashley got tonnes of abuse for appointing Bruce after Rafa Benitez chose to leave, so he’ll be hoping he can prove the fans wrong.
In that case, Hartson could be right and he could get the next three or four months to try and build up some form, but it’s going to be an uphill battle if the first few months are anything to go by.
They’ve had an average of 37.5% possession this season and that’s just not good enough to put a stamp on games, particularly at St. James’ Park.
That, however, could be more to do with Bruce’s system being too defensive, as, under Benitez last season, Newcastle made 355 passes on average per game, whereas this season the figure sits at 317.88.
This suggests Hartson isn’t telling the whole story when he says the players need to perform for Bruce, because it’s probably a mix of underperformance and tactical inadequacies.
Either way, things need to change at Newcastle and, if John Hartson is right, Steve Bruce needs to pick up points in some crucial games against Aston Villa, Sheffield United and Southampton before Christmas.
Newcastle fans, what do you think Steve Bruce needs to change to turn the club around?
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