Mike Ashley has claimed that Steve Bruce was in his top three candidates to get the Newcastle United job after Rafa Benitez’s departure.
The 58-year-old was given the hot seat at St. James’ Park earlier this month, with Sky Sports suggesting that he wasn’t initially in the running for the role.
But the Toon owner has rejected this idea.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, he said: “I expected the negative reaction to Rafa leaving, I thought it would be very bad.
“But I was shocked by the reaction to Steve. He doesn’t deserve it. He’s one of their own. I don’t think the fans quite realise what they’ve got because I’m hoping he’s the one.
“There’s been some hurtful stuff, that he was our 11th choice. Actually, we had a short-list of three and Steve was one of them.”
The problem Mike Ashley has at Newcastle, amongst many, is the absolute breakdown in trust that he has been the architect of. He can come out and make claims like this, and regardless of if they are true or not, the supporters’ first and automatic reaction will always be: “that’s what you would say, Mike”. In this instance, only he will know whether or not Bruce was one of his top three candidates for the role, but it certainly has the whiff of a fib. No offence to Bruce, but he was managing a mid-table Championship club last season, and he has a Premier League average of just 1.12 points per match [Transfermarkt]. If that is enough to convince Mike Ashley that you are one of the best men for the Newcastle job, then perhaps there needs to be some questions asked about the fundamental issues with the ambition levels of those in boardroom on Tyneside.