The Toon Army opened their Premier League account with a 1-0 defat to Arsenal on Sunday after a turbulent summer, but Sky Sports pundit Bent has suggested that the new boss can still have a positive effect on Tyneside.
Speaking to Football Insider, he said: “They’re up against it, they’re really up against it.
“If you ever needed someone to kind of solidify a team and keep them stable then Steve Bruce is your man.
“It just depends on what their ambition is – if they go out there and try to play football against some of these top teams, they’ll get beat, simple as that. If they go out and are hard to play against – like Rafa Benitez, at times it wasn’t great to watch but it got results – if they can do that, they might be alright.”
Bruce hasn’t come in for too much praise during his brief spell as Newcastle United manager, so it’s good to here a more balanced viewpoint on his appointment. Bent played under the 58-year-old during their time together at local rivals Sunderland, and if there is anybody qualified to talk about what a manager can get out of a squad, it is one of his ex-players. Nobody has really questioned that Bruce is an appointment that has been made in an attempt to stabilise the Magpies, but the main issue he is facing is that, quite frankly, he isn’t Rafa Benitez. The Spaniard is a Champions League winner, whereas Bruce has never lifted a trophy. Of course, theoretically, he could stabilise this Toon squad, and with the signings he has made, he will be hoping to avoid relegation at a canter. The problem many fans have with that “ambition” is that they are sick of scraping by when they believe their club is deserving of so much more.