Steve Bruce reveals Newcastle trophy aim as he denies Mike Ashley ‘yes man’ claims

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PROUD Geordie Steve Bruce dreams of the day St James’s Park reverberates to the sound of the Toon Army singing the praises of one of their own.

Newcastle’s new boss knows it will be a long time before his name cascades from the stands.

Indeed, he’s accepts that in the short term at least, it’s more likely to be brickbats, not bouquets, hurled towards him.

It was always likely to be the case for whoever succeeded the much-loved Rafa Benitez and with a CV which includes Manchester United legend and former Sunderland manager on it, Bruce is under no illusions about the size of the task ahead.

Smashing the club’s transfer record with the £40m swoop for Hoffenheim striker Joelinton is a good start though it probably won’t stop thousands of fans boycotting the opening Premier League game at home to Arsenal next month.

Such is the ugly mood on Tyneside right now that the fact Newcastle owner Mike Ashley was at the training ground yesterday to meet up with Bruce for the second time inside a week, will be interpreted as a negative in some quarters.

The 58-year-old acknowledges that just by accepting a job seen as a poisoned chalice by many of his peers, has him down as a yes-man.

But the boy who grew up supporting the Magpies from the terraces could not turn down the job even though he feels guilty at leaving Sheffield Wednesday after less than six months and calls himself “selfish” for following his heart.

The criticism he’s received from all sides since has hurt but he’s intent on turning the jeers into cheers though not, he insists, to inflate his own ego.

“Maybe one day, they’ll sing my name though that’s not important to me,” says Bruce.

“What is important is the fans getting behind the team like they have always done. I think that will never change.

“And maybe, if they sing my name one day, that will be a sign that we’ve done OK.”

The fans hold Ashley in such contempt because they feel, with justification, he does not share their ambitions, is only at Newcastle to showcase his Sports Direct business and is driven by balance sheets rather than the pursuit of glory.

Bruce is adamant he sings off the same hymn sheet as every supporter and, in a marked shift to so many of his predecessors – even Benitez – he talked openly of his burning desire to win a Cup during his time in charge.

So Premier League survival is not the be-all and end-all?

“No, no, that’s definitely not the case,” he added.

“Listen, I’m not going to speak about Rafa but my ambition was to manage Newcastle and take it forward and that has burned for a very, very long time.

“I think people have known me long enough to realise I’m not going to be anybody’s yes man. I’m too long in the tooth for that.

“I’ve heard it said I’m a puppet or am not in charge of transfers but I’m not his (Ashley’s) bagman or anything else.

“I can only report on how he has been with myself and he’s been straight down the line in the conversations we’ve had.”

Bruce then talked frankly of how he wants to become the first Toon boss in the modern era to win silverware – revealing his achievement in taking Hull to the 2014 FA Cup final changed his own perception of the knockout competitions.

“At Hull, we got to the final and if you ask supporters what was their biggest day, getting into the Premier League or the Cup final, they’d say the final,” he said.

“So that’s got to be the aim. It’s not just about staying in the division and being happy with that – that would be wrong.

“We’ll try and use that avenue if we possibly can.”

If Newcastle do win the Cup under Bruce, they won’t just be singing his name. There’ll be a statue erected alongside one of his own heroes, friends and predecessors, the late Sir Bobby Robson.

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