Newcastle head coach Steve Bruce has insisted owner Mike Ashley “only wants what’s best for the club” following the collapse of a takeover he believed could take them to the next level.
The sportswear tycoon was on Tyneside this week to meet summer signings Callum Wilson, Jamal Lewis, Ryan Fraser and Jeff Hendrick, having had to fund a recruitment drive he had hoped might fall to new owners.
He also took the opportunity to launch an angry broadside at the Premier League – which swiftly refuted his claims – over the role he believes it played in the withdrawal of Amanda Staveley’s Saudi-backed bid.
Asked about his conversations with Ashley on Wednesday, Bruce said: “To be fair to Mike, he only wants what’s best for the club. He was in quite a unique situation.
“It doesn’t look as if it’s happened so for me, it’s about getting on with business as usual and trying to do the best we can.”
Bruce, who has spent much of his 12 months or so at the helm looking over his shoulder as takeover speculation raged, will now turn his attention to Saturday’s Premier League opener at West Ham and blooding his new boys.
Asked if he was glad that the off-field uncertainty appears to have been settled – for now at least – he said: “The one thing a takeover does is put everybody in a position of uncertainty. That’s never healthy.
“We’ve all said it would have been wonderful for the club. The owner thought it would take Newcastle to a different level because of the people involved, so that would have been exciting for the club.
“But it looks like it’s dead in the water, so my job now is to focus on the squad and the team and move on. If I look where we are now from where we were 12 months ago, the squad is stronger and better.”
Ashley took Bruce, his staff and the players out for dinner during his trip north, and whatever he told them appeared to have some impact with the club announcing on Friday morning that keeper Karl Darlow and midfielder Isaac Hayden had signed new five and six-year contracts respectively.
Darlow will play at the London Stadium with Martin Dubravka recovering from ankle surgery, while Wilson, Lewis, Fraser and Hendrick will all hope for debuts.