The mooted appointment of Steve Bruce as the next Newcastle United manager, replacing Rafael Benitez, is one that has divided opinion amongst the footballing community.
Indeed, in the case of former England international Darren Bent, it has divided opinion for him personally from day to day. The Sun reported on Friday that the Sheffield Wednesday boss will be handed the Magpies job before the weekend is up.
And for Bent, he clearly has mixed feelings on it. On Thursday he told Football Insider that he would ‘hate to see’ his old manager given the Newcastle post, because it would only end badly due to Bruce being a former Sunderland boss.
However, the 35-year-old appeared to change his tune within 24 hours, telling the same publication on Friday that: “If he gets an established manager who can get results, like a Steve Bruce, people might not see it as the most exciting but at the end of the day [they] need to be in the Premier League and being linked with these kind of managers, Mike Ashley’s being smart there.”
Sorry, what was that Darren? You think Bruce would be a smart appointment now? You’re actually praising Ashley? Way to get the whole of Tyneside on your back, pal.
Essentially what Bent is saying is that because Ashley wants to sell the club, which would probably require Newcastle staying in the top flight, it would be clever to appoint a safety-first manager like Bruce.
Is Bruce a safety-first boss, though? He’s had a chequered record at Premier league level, oftentimes seeming far more adept at getting teams to the promised land than actually keeping them there.
Obviously appointing a manager with less experience of English football would, in theory, be riskier, but the reward would be much higher. That matters little to an indifferent owner like Ashley, though.
For Bent to say that Ashley is being smart in potentially appointing Bruce completely ignores the fact that the Sports Direct tycoon let a much better manager than Bruce walk away in the first place. If it’s success in the Premier League you want to help you try and engineer a sale, then surely Benitez would’ve been a much better bet than the Wednesday boss.
It appears that Bent, like a lot of us to be fair, has become confused by the circus that is Newcastle United football club in 2019. You can’t blame him for that, really.