The former Magpies midfield general, turned pundit, was comparing the reigns of former manager Rafael Benitez with the current boss, and was quick to dismiss the Champions League winning tactician’s work getting Newcastle promoted and re-establishing this side in the top-flight.
Bruce was closing in on Benitez’s 45 Premier League points, the best he achieved while in the northeast, but Newcastle have been stuck on 43 points for the last three matches. Nevertheless, Jenas saw fit to lavish the current boss with praise for his work this season.
What did he say?
Speaking on BT Sport before the Spurs defeat, Jenas said: “This is a team that has, in my opinion, overperformed this season, again. Last year the reason behind it was Rafael Benitez, apparently, and once he left, it was all going to fall apart.”
“Well, Steve Bruce has come in and shown that he can do a better job and also the players, you’ve got to give them a lot of credit, they’ve had to change systems at times, they’ve been criticised heavily for not scoring enough goals.
“They’ve found a way to put in some really good performances. You’ve got to give the players and the manager a lot of credit,” added the former Newcastle midfielder.
Bruce has had to deal with a myriad of issues both off and on the field for Newcastle, including an injury crisis, boycotts and incessant takeover chatter. However, that is not to say Benitez experienced a smooth ride while at the helm of St James’ Park. The wily Spaniard masterminded an immediate return to the Premier League, and with some astute dealings in the transfer market, re-established Newcastle as a top-flight side.
Benitez was incredibly consistent, accruing 44 and 45 points in his two Premier League seasons, his successor looked set to eclipse both those totals when he guided the Magpies to survival with six matches remaining. Although, it has not quite worked out that way, with Newcastle’s form dropping off a cliff, taking one point from their last four league matches.
Whichever way you look at it, there is not much to separate Bruce and Benitez at the moment, if the former Sunderland boss can accumulate a similar points total next season there will be even less between them. But, if next term Bruce is able to push for the fringes of Europe, then it would be fair to suggest he had done a better job.