Bruce: I'm nobody's puppet and will have final say on Newcastle transfers

The new Magpies manager accepts he has big boots to fill following Rafa Benitez’s departure and is aiming to make some early signings at his new club

Steve Bruce has claimed he will have the final say on transfer targets after being installed as the new manager of Newcastle United earlier this week.

The 58-year-old left his post at Sheffield Wednesday to take the reins on Tyneside, and immediately faced questions regarding how much control he has over potential incomings this summer.

There is a depleted look to the club’s forward line ahead of the 2019-20 campaign, with last season’s top scorer Ayoze Perez signing for Leicester City in a £30 million ($38m) deal earlier this month and 12-goal Salomon Rondon linking up with former Magpies boss Rafa Benitez in China at Dalian Yifang.
And, while Brazilian forward Joelinton is reported to be close to finalising a move to Newcastle from Hoffenheim in a deal worth £36m ($45m), Bruce still has work to do in the current transfer window before it closes on August 8.

“There have been a couple of things written,” said the former Aston Villa boss. “Am I going to sit here and be a puppet? That won’t happen. I am in charge of transfers.

“It’s like most football clubs – I will have the final say on transfers. I have read all kinds of nonsense that I won’t, but I will work hard to make sure I work with the chief scout.

“The policy is like most other clubs – identifying the players and making sure we fit in. I will have control of who we bring in.

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“We want to make a couple of acquisitions at least. Make no mistake, we are active as we speak.”

Speaking to the press for the first time since his appointment, Bruce also accepted he has a point to prove following the departure of fan-favourite Benitez, who left citing the lack of a shared vision as the primary reason for his exit.

In what has been a troubled summer at St James’ Park, Newcastle became the 11th club of Bruce’s 21-year managerial career, and he freely admits he has work to do to win over a sceptical fan-base. 

“I know in some people’s eyes I’m not Rafa,” he said. “I understand there are big shoes to fill, but I’ll give it everything I possibly can.

“I knew it was going to be difficult. The easy thing would have been to say no. I just hope that people will show respect, which obviously you only gain by getting a few results and doing the job, but hopefully that will go hand in hand.

“I accept I am not everyone’s cup of tea, but judge me over a period of time. I am quietly confident I will do okay.

“I’m going to need all of my 20 years’ experience to get my way through choppy waters. But I’ve got skin as think as an elephant.”

Newcastle’s pre-season calendar continues this weekend when they take on West Ham United in Shanghai’s Hongkou Stadium, before they return to the UK to face Scottish side Hibernian and Ligue 1 outfit Saint-Etienne.

Their Premier League campaign begins on August 11, when Arsenal visit St James’ Park.

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