The former Sheffield Wednesday boss was appointed as Rafael Benitez’s successor last summer to much dismay amongst the club’s fanbase. Now, Ryder has lifted the lid on how the Newcastle players felt about the appointment.
“I was in Nanjing with the team as the news began filtering through that Bruce was about to sign a deal with Newcastle after finally getting out of his Sheff Wed contract,” he wrote on The Chronicle’s website. “The verdict of those inside the dressing room was simple.
“One first-team member decided to canvass the opinion of the small band of journalists that had made the incredible journey from Newcastle to the Far East. The question was: Is Bruce still Premier League standard? The answer was emphatic as the Toon player reeled off Bruce’s achievements at Hull and the fact that Bruce had more recently been within a whisker of leading Aston Villa back to the top-flight.
“Bruce’s appointment may have gone down like a lead balloon with some fans but by the time his plane touched down in Shanghai, the dressing room had already accepted him.”
It’s interesting that a group of players can have such a contrasting opinion to their club’s fanbase. Perhaps the supporters were looking at the appointment more within the context of him being Benitez’s replacement, whereas the players were simply wondering ‘Is this guy still good enough to be a Premier League boss?’ It seems that they all decided on yes being the answer to that question. Obviously Bruce is very experienced and has achieved some good things at clubs like Hull City, but he’s also experienced a couple of relegations and flamed out at Villa rather spectacularly considering he had almost guided them back to the top flight mere months before his dismissal. However, the response from the Newcastle players on the pitch this season has suggested that, as Ryder says, they were fully behind Bruce from the word go, and that’s why they’re in a pretty decent position in the Premier League table in mid-November.