Shanghai (AFP) – New Newcastle head coach Steve Bruce has vowed to win over the doubters after admitting he has always regretted turning down the job the first time he was offered it.
The 58-year-old was installed as Rafael Benitez’s replacement on Wednesday as angry fans vented their displeasure at owner Mike Ashley’s running of the club.
Bruce, born near Newcastle, never played for the club he supported as a boy and revealed the chance to step into the hot seat was one he could not refuse a second time.
Speaking to NUFC TV in Shanghai, where he will take charge of his first game against West Ham in the Premier League Asia Trophy on Saturday, he said: “I’m like every other Geordie, I’ve lived the dream.
“If you can’t play for them, then of course if you’re a Geordie, what better thing than to take the number one seat? I’m delighted to have been given the opportunity and I’ll do my best.
“I know in some people’s eyes, I’m not Rafa and I understand there are big shoes to fill. But believe me, I’ll give it everything I possibly can and hopefully prove the doubters wrong.”
Bruce, who met the players on Thursday, just hours after his arrival in China, might have managed the Magpies much earlier in his career having been approached when Bobby Robson was sacked in 2004 during his time in charge at Birmingham.
“Back a few years ago, I regretted it,” he said. “I regretted it and it lingered around me for years, when Sir Bobby left. To be given the opportunity again, it was simply something I had to take, I had to grasp it.”
With just three weeks of the transfer window remaining, Newcastle, who finished 13th in the Premier League last season, are running out of time to plug the substantial gap in the squad left by the departures of Salomon Rondon and Ayoze Perez.
Newcastle were thumped 4-0 by Wolves in Nanjing on Wednesday in their first game in the Asia Trophy.