Steve Bruce steadying the ship at Newcastle United has set the club up to go to the next level
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It's fair to say that Newcastle United's appointment of Steve Bruce as manager ahead of the 2019/20 Premier League season wasn't particularly popular on Tyneside following the disappointing departure of Rafa Benitez.

Benitez had given the club's fans something to cling onto and gave them reason to think positively, even if this did only hide the cracks of club who were rotten behind the scenes.

Bruce came in after Benitez announced that he would not be staying at St James' Park and he subsequently moved to China and concern grew in the North-East as supporters analysed what the future would hold for the Magpies. 

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How the season has gone so far

The opening day of the season was a frustrating one for Newcastle supporters as the first game of the Bruce era ended in a 1-0 defeat to Arsenal in front of a lower than usual crowd at St James' Park in what was the first game of the boycott against Mike Ashley after a summer of turmoil following Benitez's departure.

Defeat at newly promoted Norwich City the following weekend had people concerned as the new-look Magpies side were easily beaten at Carrow Road. But a shock victory at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium the week after provided some reason for hope moving forwards.

As the season progressed, St James' remained with several patches of empty grey seats but draws prevented Newcastle from climbing the Premier League table. A 5-0 thrashing at Leicester City resulted in many calling for Bruce to go, but the manager got a reaction and Manchester United were beaten the following weekend with a league debut goal for Matty Longstaff.

Despite the unrest amongst supporters off the pitch, it was clear that the players responded to what their manager was asking of them and that they were capable of reacting to poor results. 

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Bruce deserves credit

Before the Premier League season was suspended due to COVID-19, Newcastle sat in 13th place in the league table and their last game resulted in a 1-0 victory on the road at Southampton with a shining light from the season Allan Saint-Maximin grabbing a late winner at St Mary's Stadium.

The early season form was inconsistent and it took the Magpies until November to secure back-to-back wins in the Premier League, but since then the performances and results have improved significantly leaving the team in their current position in the top-flight.

There have been a number of draws since the turn of the year and many of those were against sides who the Geordie faithful will feel that their side should be beating with goalless draws at home to the likes of Burnley and Norwich. If those results could have turned into wins, Newcastle may have even been pushing on for the European spots.

It remains to be seen what the return of football in England brings for Newcastle who will be playing at a completely empty St James' Park. Home form has been reasonable so far this season with only three defeats tasted on home soil to this point.

Bruce also has an FA Cup quarter-final to prepare for, and despite two replays being required to overcome lower league opposition in the earlier rounds, this is the furthest the Magpies have reached in the competition since the 2005/06 season. 

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Moving forwards

The future of Newcastle United is uncertain at the moment with yet more rumblings about a proposed takeover dominating the headlines. With so many contradicting sources, it becomes hard to know what stage the whole process is actually at.

Looking at the current squad there is a feeling that there is potential for the squad to develop and improve, something which has been the case in the past but when Mike Ashley is involved there is always the possibility that an offer will come in and a player will leave.

Putting that aside, Bruce helped the players he brought in last summer to adapt to the Premier League which isn't always a given. Newcastle know that all too well themselves with the likes of Florian Thauvin and Luuk de Jong struggling massively in a black and white shirt but going on to do well for themselves, particularly Thauvin who has become one of Marseille's key players since his return to France.

Were the new consortium to complete their takeover of Newcastle, it is expected that there would also be some drastic changes to the current squad which may seem unfair to those who have stayed with the Magpies through relegation and guided them back into the Premier League at the first time of asking.

It would also be harsh on Steve Bruce who may not be everyone's cup of tea, but he has done a good job to get his boyhood club into a stable position in the top flight.