Newcastle confirm Steve Bruce as Rafa Benitez's successor
(Photo by Shaun Brooks/Action Plus via Getty Images)

Newcastle United have announced that Steve Bruce will take over as head coach after signing a three-year contract at St James’ Park.

Mikel Arteta, Roberto Martinez and Sam Allardyce were among those touted as possible successors to Rafael Benitez, who left in June, but Bruce emerged last week as the Magpies’ top target.

Bruce held talks with the club at the weekend and then resigned from his post at Sheffield Wednesday on Monday before a suitable compensation package was agreed between the two clubs.

Bruce will bring assistant coaches Steve Agnew and Stephen Clemence with him to the North East.

He is set to fly to China to introduce himself to the players after their Premier League Asia Trophy encounter with Wolves.

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Bruce’s mixed managerial career

58-year-old Bruce is immensely experienced in the dugout, having managed nine separate teams since 1998, when he took over at Sheffield United.

Bruce led the Blades to an eighth-place finish in his solitary season in charge but resigned amid behind-the-scenes discord.

He was sacked from his next job at Huddersfield Town after a poor start to the 2000/01 season, but he then led Wigan Athletic to the Second Division playoffs the following year.

Defeat in the semi-finals prompted a move to Crystal Palace, which was swiftly followed by a switch to Birmingham City.

Bruce led the Blues back into the Premier League and secured their survival for three consecutive campaigns before they were relegated in 2006.

They made an instant return to the top flight, but a dispute with Birmingham led Bruce to rejoin Wigan, whom he kept up in 2007/08 and 08/09.

Bruce is a boyhood Newcastle fan but he agreed to take up a post as Sunderland manager in June 2009, remaining at the Stadium of Light until his dismissal in November 2011.

He was next appointed at championship Hull City, who were promoted in 12/13 and reached the FA Cup final the following season.

They were sent back down to the Championship in 2015 but soon returned to the Premier League via the playoffs, only for Bruce to resign owing to a lack of transfer activity.

He instead took the reins at Aston Villa and, after narrowly missing out on promotion in 17/18, things turned sour, leading to his sacking last October.

Bruce’s spell at Wednesday only began in February, but the offer of managing Newcastle has proven too good to turn down.

‘A very special moment for me and my family’

Bruce emphasised his connection with the club in his initial statement and vowed to give the fans a team ‘they can be proud of’

"I’m delighted and incredibly proud to be appointed as head coach of Newcastle United," he said. "This is my boyhood club and it was my dad’s club, so this is a very special moment for me and my family.

“There is a huge challenge ahead of us, but it’s one that my staff and I are ready for. We’ll roll our sleeves up and we’ll be giving it everything from the off to ensure supporters have a successful team that they can be proud of.”

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Managing director Lee Charnley underlined his expectation of total commitment from Bruce.

“Steve has a deep affection for Newcastle United and we are very pleased that a coach with his vast experience and connections to the club and city has joined us.

“Steve knows what this club means to supporters and to the region and he will put his heart and soul into leading our talented group of players with the full support of our staff.”

Bruce must win over fans

Many Newcastle supporters vented their frustration with owner Mike Ashley after Benitez, who had twice kept them in the top tier against the odds, walked away due to a perceived lack of backing.

Sections of the Toon faithful are likely to oppose Bruce’s appointment given his inconsistent record and acrimonious exits.

Only by ensuring his side, complete with new additions, deliver on the pitch can he quash the present pessimism.

Newcastle begin the new season at home to Arsenal on Sunday, August 11.

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