If Steve Bruce really does make it to his 1,000th game on Sunday, he’ll be a lame-duck manager.
Toon fans want him out and the new ownership group have refused to publicly back him.
United’s players have existed in an awkward limbo this week wondering who’s next in the hot-seat, while working with Bruce and No2 Graeme Jones on the training ground.
Welcome to the new regime’s boss, same as the old one. For now.
Bruce staying on, however briefly, risks a fresh start in front of a celebratory St James’ Park crowd turning sour if Spurs take the points.
Top candidates like Brendan Rodgers and Antonio Conte have no interest in the Toon job, preferring their next move to be actual elite, rather than wannabe winner.
TT News Agency via REUTERS)
A week on from the £305m turnover being completed, it turns out overhauling a football club is not a quick or easy job. Patience, and a long term attitude prevail.
The new owners faced a dilemma all week.
Briefings from close to the consortium that Bruce would be sacked early this week, left the United boss seething.
He still had to prepare his squad for Sunday’s game with players thinking he was on the way out.
The new ownership group had promised a careful process of evaluation across the club, which is said to be an arduous process.
While it is clear Bruce isn’t the long term solution, the question was asked this week: why sack him immediately without a replacement lined up?
Why leave just Graeme Jones and Ben Dawson in charge on their own, and facing flak if they lose the next few games, when Bruce, Steve Agnew and Stephen Clemence could hold the fort just a bit longer.
To counter that, the new ownership want to create momentum. Would that be possible with Bruce in the dug-out, and facing chants demanding his sacking?
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Bruce himself has a decision to make as to whether to be wheeled out as boss, and be hit with awkward questions about his future, and the new owners, or put his foot down and demand clarity.
Complicating matters was Bruce’s £8m pay off, which no boss would jeopardise.
The race is now on for the new owners to find a new boss that tallies with their stated ambition of getting to the Champions League and challenging for the title.
Newcastle are being linked with a series of big names, although it is understood one top target Brendan Rodgers has a long term aim of bossing Manchester City not on Tyneside.
Zinedine Zidane has also rebuffed soundings, believing he could become France manager.
Rookie Frank Lampard is the new favourite, with his old England team mate Steven Gerrard, the Rangers manager, also in the frame. Belgium boss Roberto Martinez has worked four times with Toon coach Graeme Jones.
Arsene Wenger, currently working with FIFA, who have fostered close relations with Saudi Arabia recently, and has top quality pedigree having built the modern Arsenal.