Steve Bruce insists Newcastle head into the Premier League season buoyed by their summer signings, despite the club working through another “storm” amid the club’s failed takeover bid.
The arrivals of Callum Wilson for £20m and free agent Ryan Fraser, followed with the £15m acquisition of Jamal Lewis from Norwich earlier this week have preceded further frustration on Tyneside at seeing the proposed £300m Saudi-backed takeover collapse.
Newcastle hit out at the Premier League in a statement on Wednesday and said they would be “considering all relevant options available” over the organisation’s handling of the proposed takeover from PCP Capital Partners, the Reuben Brothers and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia (PIF).
The Premier League responded with a rebuttal and described the club’s claim that Amanda Staveley’s Saudi-backed bid had been rejected as “incorrect”, after Newcastle owner Mike Ashley had failed to resurrect talks over a potential sale.
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“Newcastle always seems to be in a storm,” said Bruce, ahead of Newcastle’s Premier League opening day visit to West Ham on Saturday, live on Sky Sports.
“This week, in particular with the signings that we have brought in, there is nothing like a signing, or two, or three, or four like we have had to lift the mood of everyone. Not just supporters, but players, staff and the manager.
“Very quietly in amongst the storm we have been trying to work our way through it. Of course, when they get over the line and come thick and fast like they did then I think everyone is pleased and delighted with the work we have done.”
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Steve Bruce on #NUFCTakeover:
“This takeover was unique because of who was involved – it would’ve taken us to a different level. But it looks like it hasn’t happened, it looks like it’s dead in the water. Let’s try and forget about takeovers – my job is to improve the team.”
The Premier League’s chief executive Richard Masters told Sky Sports News he sympathises with Newcastle supporters, and said the top flight’s owners’ and directors’ test remains under review.
Bruce, who received a rare visit from Ashley earlier this week, says the club hierarchy believed the “unique” proposed takeover would have taken the side forward and helped them compete at the higher regions of the Premier League.
“Mike only wants what is best for the club and this is quite a unique situation. It can only benefit the club – take the club [forward],” said Bruce of the takeover which he says appears to be “dead in the water”.
“That is what I think everybody is hoping for and would like to see, Newcastle competing in the top end and the top six. It doesn’t look like it has happened, so for me it is just to get on [with] business as usual and try and do the best I can.
“Certainly, [from] where I think we were 12 months ago to today, the squad is a bit stronger and better so let’s try and improve next year.”
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September 12, 2020, 7:45pm
Bruce targets top-10 league finish
Bruce led the Magpies to a 13th-place finish in the Premier League last season in his first campaign in charge at St James’ Park, following the departure of Rafa Benitez last summer, and has his sights set on a top-half finish.
“We gave ourselves a chance [of top 10 last year],” he said. “That has got to be the aim, of course it has – keep improving.”
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Newcastle transfer business so far
Mark Gillespie – Motherwell, free
Jeff Hendrick – Burnley, free
Callum Wilson – Bournemouth, £20m
Ryan Fraser – Bournemouth, free
Jamal Lewis – Norwich, £15m
Rob Elliott – released
Freddie Woodman – Swansea, loan
Jack Colback – Nottingham Forest, free
Hayden and Darlow sign new long-term deals
Meanwhile, Newcastle confirmed midfielder Isaac Hayden and goalkeeper Karl Darlow have both signed new long-term contracts with the club.
Hayden, who joined the Magpies from Arsenal in 2016, has agreed a new six-year deal, while Darlow has signed a five-year deal to continue to provide competition with first-choice ‘keeper Martin Dubravka absent through injury.
“We have had a very good week and a very good window with the players we have brought in, but the business we have done in terms of keeping players here has been very important too,” Bruce said in a club statement.
French defender Florian Lejeune has completed a season-long loan move to La Liga side Deportivo Alaves.
Newcastle 2020/21: The season for change?
Turmoil and tumult have familiarly reigned on Tyneside this summer… but something is in the air.
Steve Bruce, who had the unenviable task of replacing the adored Rafa Benitez, managed to steer Newcastle to comfortable survival in the end – the Magpies finished 10 points ahead of 18th-placed Bournemouth.
Another failed takeover, meaning more dashed dreams of overdue investment and ambition, pointed to a rocky ride once again and yet, on the eve of a new new season, there is a glimmer of fresh, unexpected hope…
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