Steve Bruce was already thinking about becoming the Newcastle United manager before he played down reports linking him to the job at Sheffield Wednesday’s Owls in the Park event last month.
That is according to Bruce’s friend, the former Newcastle striker Alan Shearer.
When asked about the speculation linking him with the Magpies vacancy, Bruce told BBC Radio Sheffield.: “Maybe, because I’m from Newcastle (that is the reason for the rumour).
“But no, I’ve been on holiday. I never take any notice of all that sort of speculation or tittle-tattle because the way the newspapers are today, no disrespect, because I think there have been 150 managers associated with Newcastle.
“I would suppose I’m going to be one of them.”
Asked again the following week, Bruce told the Sheffield Star: “It’s news to me. God only knows what happened on Tuesday afternoon. There seemed to be an upsurge (in the betting) from somewhere.
“John Terry was favourite yesterday. It was Mikel Arteta the day before, so who knows? As far as I am concerned, I am here, I am going home tomorrow and looking forward to walking the dog.”
But Shearer has since told the Sun newspaper that the pair discussed how Bruce would respond to any Newcastle approach while dining together three weeks ago.
Whether or not contact had been at that stage remains to be seen. But it would appear that the 58-year-old’s heart was already set on the Magpies either way, with their conversation having apparently led Shearer to urge him not to take on the “toxic” role.
That is despite the former England captain going on to acknowledge in his Sun column that things may not have been “perfect” for Bruce at Sheffield Wednesday.
Shearer knows full well the baggage that comes with the St James’ Park position, having been appointed as caretaker by the Newcastle owner Mike Ashley a decade ago.
Bruce was pictured arriving at Newcastle’s Chinese training base on Thursday, raising additional questions as to when he must have applied for a visa – most likely before his appointment was confirmed by the Magpies, without the blessing of Sheffield Wednesday, on Wednesday.
— Bryan Swanson (@skysports_bryan) July 18, 2019