It’s no secret that the Toon Army didn’t react particularly well to the former Sheffield Wednesday chief’s arrival, but Allardyce believes he deserves credit for how he’s replaced Rafael Benitez.
“I don’t know why, and I’m still baffled, that Brucey’s doing far better this season than Rafa did last season – at this stage of the season – and Brucey gets all the stick and Rafa didn’t, I just don’t understand it,” he said on talkSPORT [25/11; 07:39].
“I think he’s done a great job with the turnaround, the short time he’s been there. He’s pulled out some terrific results. Alright, it’s not been that great [football], but it was never that great – Rafa was the master at defending.”
Allardyce knows perfectly well that Benitez didn’t get much stick from the fans at the start of last season because the Newcastle supporters realised he hadn’t been backed in the transfer market by owner Mike Ashley. Just look at the transfer fees the club spent on the likes of Joelinton and Allan Saint-Maximin last summer. Benitez only ever once got that sort of cash once, and that was only in January when he signed Miguel Almiron for a then-club record fee. Plus, the Spaniard had the credentials of being a former Champions League, Europa League, La Liga and FA Cup winner, whereas Bruce has yet to win anything more substantial as a manager than second tier play-off finals. The football obviously wasn’t the most attractive under Rafa, that’s true, but it’s not like Bruce’s team are Barcelona either. Yes, Bruce was probably too harshly treated at the beginning of his Magpies tenure, but Allardyce is taking a rather one-sided view of things here.