Sheffield Wednesday: Steve Bruce to Newcastle United... a potentially huge blow to Owls but does he need the hassle?

If Steve Bruce leaves the Owls, it would be a body blow to the club's hopes of securing promotion to the Premier League.

Wednesday, 10th July 2019, 5:48 pm
Updated Wednesday, 10th July 2019, 7:31 pm
Steve Bruce is hugely popular among Sheffield Wednesday fans

Bruce and his coaching staff have done a good job in stabilising things since moving to S6 in January. The four-time promotion winner has reinvigorated Wednesday, bringing a feelgood factor back to the place.

As soon as he arrived following his pre-planned break to the Carribean, Bruce quickly endeared himself to Wednesdayites by identifying that the squad desperately required more pace, energy and youth. Bruce, a seasoned campaigner, has a plethora of contacts in the sport and he utilised them on January deadline day by signing Dominic Iorfa, Achraf Lazaar and Rolando Aarons. The trio all had their moments as the Owls claimed a top-half finish.

Bruce headed into the off season knowing he would have to wheel and deal in the transfer market to reshape his lop-sided squad.

Steve Bruce managed Newcastle United's rivals Sunderland for two years

Sign up to our Sheffield Wednesday newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Despite tough financial constraints, Bruce has attempted to build a team in his image, adding free agents Julian Borner, Moses Odubajo and Kadeem Harris to their ranks (it is just a matter of time before Odubajo and Harris's deals are officially announced by the club).

But Wednesday's soft transfer embargo has restricted Bruce's ability to bring in further reinforcements. He has made it clear he thinks the Owls are four players short of being capable of launching a promotion challenge.

Talk of Bruce going to Newcastle United initially kicked off just before Wednesday's players reported back for pre-season duty. Bruce laughed off the link when he was asked about the Magpies gig at Owls in the Park.

But the bookmakers' odds on Bruce replacing Rafael Benitez at St James' Park tumbled dramatically on Tuesday afternoon.

It has now emerged he is under consideration for the vacant managerial position and that Newcastle are eager to make a swift appointment. Their ideal scenario would be to have a new man in place to succeed Benitez by the time they fly to China to take part in the Asia Cup this Saturday.

Several high-profile names, including Steven Gerrard and Jose Mourinho, have already distanced themselves from he role.

Bruce, a boyhood Newcastle fan, turned down the job in the past.

However, should Wednesday receive an official approach for Bruce this week and grant him permission to speak to the Magpies, will Bruce find the opportunity too hard to resist this time around? Given Bruce is 58, it could be the Geordie's last chance to manage the Toon and manage a team in the Premier League.

You would also think Newcastle could offer Bruce, who is on a one-year rolling contract with Wednesday, a substantial pay rise to come to Tyneside. It remains unclear what compensation fee the Owls would demand for him.

Yet the Magpies are a club in transition and whoever replaces Benitez is unlikely to have a big transfer kitty to play with this summer. Owner Mike Ashley is in the process of trying to sell the club and they have yet to make a summer signing.

Although Newcastle are a big club with a huge fan-base, their playing roster, in terms of ability, looks one of the weakest in the top-flight. They punched above their weight under Benitez, who worked wonders on a modest budget. The Spaniard was incredibly popular with the Geordie faithful and will be an extremely tough act to follow.

Bruce managed Newcastle's arch rivals Sunderland from 2009 to 2011 and would face an uphill task trying to win over the masses.

But Bruce is a big character and he won Owls fans over with his charm, honesty and straight-talking. If he departs, it would be Wednesday's loss and Newcastle's gain.

With just over three weeks to go until the start of the season, the last thing the Owls need is to be searching for a new manager. It would create uncertainty and potentially unsettle everybody. Remember, the likes of Tony Strudwick, Borner, Odubajo and Harris joined the club because they wanted to work for a man with Bruce's track record.

Should Bruce go, it could undermine the Owls' attempts to make a fast start and leave them with a job on their hands finding an adequate replacement. Bruce is a safe pair of hands and knows the Championship inside out. He is a serial winner and would be a big loss.