Steve Bruce says Mike Ashley does have the ambition to make a success of Newcastle United – and the new boss wants to prove it by winning the FA Cup.
Ashley made a surprise visit to Tyneside via helicopter on Wednesday to welcome Bruce on his first day at the training ground. He also met Brazilian striker Joelinton, who this week became the club’s £40million record signing.
Bruce believes that addition is a signal of Ashley’s intent, even though former boss Rafa Benitez quit because he felt the owner wanted nothing more than Premier League survival.
‘This (Joelinton) is a statement from the club,’ said Bruce, who was presented to the media alongside the 22-year-old.
‘It’s definitely not the case he (Ashley) only wants to finish 17th. Of course he wants more than that. We’ve got to take the club forward, not settle for staying up.
‘I’m not Rafa Benitez, that’s for sure, but I think I’ve got the tools to take the club forward.’
Newcastle are now in talks to sign Nice winger Allan Saint-Maximin for around £20m, and Bruce is convinced Ashley will back him in the transfer market.
‘I had the conversation and there was money to spend,’ he said. ‘It was all positive in that respect. There is proof already.
‘So far (Ashley) has been straight as a die. I have asked questions and got straight answers. I am not interested in what has gone on before, it is up to me to strike up a relationship. He wants the club to go forward, if he didn’t, he wouldn’t have been here this morning.
‘But I’m not going to be anybody’s yes man. I will certainly be my own man, I always have. And all I can ask is to be given a chance. Hopefully, given time, supporters will turn around and think he is not so bad after all.’
Since Ashley took over in 2007, Newcastle have never made it beyond the fourth round of the FA Cup, and the criticism has always been that survival was the priority of the hierarchy.
But Bruce, who took Hull to the FA Cup final in 2014, says ending the club’s 50-year wait for a trophy is his number one goal.
‘I’m not really bothered what’s been done before, ‘ he said. ‘I used to understand the philosophy of (resting players) but my perception changed at Hull.
‘If Hull can survive and get to an FA Cup final, then surely, surely, Newcastle have the tools to do it.
‘That’s what we have to try to achieve. It won’t be easy, but it’s doable. Can we win the FA Cup? Can we win the League Cup? That’s got to be an aim.’
Meanwhile, Bruce insists Manchester United target Sean Longstaff, who Newcastle value at £50m, will not be sold.
‘We don’t want to sell our best young players, that’s for sure,’ he said. ‘So, that won’t happen. I’m very confident (he won’t go).’