Football

Steve Bruce recognises ‘huge challenge’ as Newcastle manager

Steve Bruce acknowledged he will have his work cut out after being appointed manager of Newcastle United on a three-year contract yesterday.

The announcement came ahead of the Magpies' 4-0 defeat by Wolverhampton Wanderers in the semi-finals of the English Premier League Asia Trophy competition in Nanjing, China.

Newcastle will next face West Ham United, who lost 4-1 to Manchester City in yesterday's other semi-final, on Saturday in the third-place play-off, before Wolves take on City in the final.

Bruce, 58, replaces popular Spaniard Rafael Benitez, who left St James' Park last month after failing to agree a contract extension with club owner Mike Ashley.

"This is my boyhood club and it was my dad's club, so this is a very special moment for me and my family," Bruce, who had resigned from Championship side Sheffield Wednesday on Monday, told the Newcastle website.

"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 fans have a successful team that they can be proud of."

The chances of success are complicated by an owner who wants to sell a big but perennially under-performing club, and fans increasingly venting their anger at the lack of funds and ambition.

Newcastle have yet to sign any players in the transfer window and have lost strikers Salomon Rondon and Ayoze Perez, who scored more than half of the Magpies' EPL goals last season.

Venezuelan Rondon was on loan from West Bromwich Albion and is set to join Benitez at Chinese Super League side Dalian Yifang, while Perez has joined Leicester City.

Bruce has plenty of EPL experience, managing 392 games, but he has also twice suffered relegation with Birmingham City and Hull City and will have to win over fans unhappy to see Benitez go and underwhelmed by his replacement.

The Twitter hashtag #BruceOut was trending already after the announcement.

Online bookmaker Betway posted odds of 6/4 for the former Sunderland and Aston Villa to be fired before the end of the campaign.

Bruce, who will be joined by coaches Steve Agnew and Stephen Clemence, led Wednesday to 12th in the Championship last season after being appointed in January. - REUTERS

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