Newcastle have named former Manchester United captain Steve Bruce as their new manager.
The announcement comes in the wake of Rafa Benitez’s departure from St James’ Park last month and his subsequent switch to Chinese Super League outfit Dalian Yifang.
Bruce has put pen-to-paper on a three-year deal with the Magpies and will fly out to China to meet up with his new squad ahead as they participate in the Premier League Asia Trophy in Nanjing and Shanghai.
The 58-year-old completed the move to his native north east after Newcastle agreed compensation terms with Sheffield Wednesday, who finished 12th under Bruce in the Championship last season.
“I’m delighted and incredibly proud to be appointed as head coach of Newcastle United,” Bruce said in a statement. “This is my boyhood club and it was my dad’s club, so this is a very special moment for me and my family.
“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 supporters have a successful team that they can be proud of.”
His appointment comes amid a summer of turmoil at the Premier League club, with the loss of fan-favourite Benitez still fresh in the minds of their loyal fanbase.
Talk of an apparent takeover bid from the Dubai-based Bin Zayed Group has done little to settle the nerves on Tyneside, while their managerial situation means Newcastle are the only top-flight club in England yet to make a signing in the current transfer window.
One of Bruce’s first jobs in his new role will be to determine the future of midfield starlet Sean Longstaff, who has been the subject of much transfer speculation following his breakthrough season in 2018-19.
The 21-year-old has caught the attention of Bruce’s former club Manchester United this summer, though it remains to be seen whether Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and co are willing to meet Newcastle’s reported valuation of around £50 million ($62m).
Much will also be made of Bruce’s affiliation to Newcastle’s north-east rivals Sunderland, whom he managed between 2009 and 2011 before being sacked due to his squad’s perilous position in the Premier League table.
Yet Bruce is no stranger to crossing such divides. The former centre-back began his managerial career at Sheffield United – the club he ended his playing days with – and would go on to take the hot-seat at cross city rivals Sheffield Wednesday.
He also managed Birmingham City from 2001 to 2007, leading them to promotion to the Premier League twice, only to join their fierce rivals Aston Villa in 2016.
The Newcastle job, however, is one that has eluded the Northumberland-born boss on more than one occasion.