‘I’ll always be thankful’ - Steve Bruce opens up on Mike Ashley’s Newcastle United tenure

Steve Bruce has opened up on his ‘difficult’ time at Newcastle United under Mike Ashley, although he does remain ‘thankful’ for the chance to manage his hometown club.

Newcastle United’s English owner Mike Ashley (L) and director Lee Charnley (R) applaud after Newcastle take the lead during the FA Cup fourth round replay football match between Oxford United and Newcastle United at the Kassam Stadium in Oxford, west of London, on February 4, 2020.

Newcastle United head coach Steve Bruce has revealed he is ‘thankful’ for the opportunity given to him by Mike Ashley but admits his time under the Sports Direct tycoon was ‘difficult’.

Bruce is teetering on the brink at Newcastle with the club’s new owners, headed up by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, already eyeing his St James’ Park replacement.

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And while he outwardly claims he’s ready to fight on, his oddly timed press conference rant will have done little to assure the PCP Consortium, who backed Bruce publicly on Friday, that he’s the safe pair of hands they need at the United wheel.

Bruce has, however, opened up about what it was like to work under previous owner Ashley - and he’s revealed mixed emotions about the experience.

“I’ve had two years (under Ashley). He’s given me the opportunity to manage this club,” said Bruce.

“It’s been difficult. I think we all understand it very, very quickly, because we want Newcastle to be at the top end of the division, not the bottom end. Unfortunately, we’ve been in the bottom half of the division more in the last 10 years. To improve on that is the key to it. I’ll let other people judge that.

“For me, he gave me the opportunity to manage this club, so I’ll always be thankful to him for that.”

While the end looks nigh for the former Manchester United skipper, Bruce underlined his want to fight on and maintain the top job at St James’ Park.

“Who wouldn’t want to try? I’m not going to give up the hope of it,” he said.

“Who wouldn’t want this job now going forward, the way it is, the way it looks in the future? Who wouldn’t want the opportunity to manage Newcastle?

“Certainly, I would, and I’m sure there’s hundreds who’d want to do the same thing. There are exciting times ahead for the club, that’s for sure.”