Once the Premier League resumed from its hiatus, Newcastle flew towards safety in the division, collecting seven points from three matches.
Although once top-flight status for next season had been assured, the Magpies have slowed down stratospherically. Steve Bruce’s side have accumulated just one point in their last three matches, and the manager has not been helped by off-field commotion involving the Saudi Arabian takeover talks and Matty Langstaff’s contract situation.
Bruce has previously opened up about Longstaff, what has been offered a “fantastic” contract in the club’s opinion, but not put pen to paper. At present, it appears the 20-year-old academy graduate is heading for the exit door, and Bruce only added further fuel to that fire with his comments.
What did he say?
Speaking in an interview with BBC Radio Newcastle, via Shields Gazette, Bruce said: “I’ve got players who are committed to the club and, just yet, Matty hasn’t committed himself.”
“It’s been going on, in my opinion, far, far too long – and it might have affected the boy,” revealed the Magpies’ manager.
Bruce also added: “Yes, it’s my job to protect players, but it’s also to protect the club, and we want people who are committed to the club. We hope we can resolve it.”
Pushing his luck
Time is running out for Longstaff on Tyneside. To some degree, he is fortunate that his contract deadlock has occurred during the drawn-out Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund backed takeover, which has stolen most of the headlines. But with just three matches of the season remaining the 20-year-old does not have long to either put pen to paper or depart St James’ Park.
Bruce’s comments and team selection suggest he has not been thrilled with Longstaff, who has missed the last two matches, and it yet to start since the Premier League’s resumption. To make matters worse, the Newcastle boss has been starting centre back Fabian Schar in a central midfield role ahead of the academy graduate, while he watches on from the bench.
With Jamaal Lascelles a doubt for the encounter with Tottenham on Wednesday night it will be interesting to see if Longstaff returns to the starting line-up. If Bruce does continue to leave the 20-year-old out, then it could be the final nail in the coffin of his brief Newcastle career.