'Thrown under the bus' - Simon Jordan delivers stunning verdict on Bruce, Benitez, and Ashley amid Newcastle bust-up claims
TalkSPORT pundit Simon Jordan has delivered a wide-reaching and impassioned assessment of the current situation at Newcastle United.
The Magpies made headlines on Thursday morning when it emerged that manager Steve Bruce had been involved in a heated training ground exchange with winger Matt Ritchie following a disagreement that spilled over from Saturday night’s 1-1 draw with Wolves.
Speaking on Jim White’s talkSPORT show later in the day, Jordan suggested that Bruce deserved criticism for some of the Toon Army’s more disappointing results this season, but also argued that the 60-year-old has never been given a fair amount of support from the club's fanbase.
He said: “When I speak about Newcastle, it’s not because I have an over-indulgence of interest in Newcastle, it’s because the subject comes up on a radio show, and I can either be a mute or I can have an opinion. G
"iven the fact that I employed Steve Bruce, I know Steve Bruce. Given the fact that I owned a Premier League football club and I understand certain aspects of it, given the fact that the former owner was a very close friend of mine, I spent time around Newcastle. I know some of the players. I look at it and I try to give a balanced point of view.
"I don’t think Steve Bruce has done a brilliant job, but I don’t think he was ever given the opportunity to get out of the gates with a great deal of support.
"What you tend to do on a radio show is that you tend to listen to the vociferous guys that turn round and say, ‘Negative negative negative negative’. What I try to do is give balance.”
Jordan then went on hit out at Toon owner Mike Ashley for his uncommitted approach to running the club, and ex-Magpies boss Rafa Benitez for being “disingenuous".
He said: "I think the players are in part responsible. I don’t think the playing squad is good enough, but I think that the overriding aspect is that the owner is the biggest problem at this football club.
"Irrespective of whether I think Mike Ashley runs his football club badly or runs it well, the fans don’t want him there. Whichever appointment he makes is going to be viewed in a certain way.
"The reason that I bring Benitez into the equation is not because I have a hang-up with Benitez, but because he’s the one manager Newcastle fans often advance as someone who they hold up highly, but the real reason is because he went against Ashley.
"People don’t seem to think that’s a fair observation. They seem to think that I’m a biased southerner with a pious point of view about what’s happening at Newcastle.
"I’ve seen your football over the last six to eight weeks really improve. You haven’t got the results, but the actual play [is better].
"What Steve did there if you want me to be honest about it, because I spoke to him, is acquiesced to public pressure on how they were playing. I think he has been doing it his way, I think he’s been insulating players who perhaps don't have the legs to play a certain way, and has now decided he might as well go all in and play on the front foot.
"If I was the owner of Newcastle, I’d ask myself, am I as committed to making sure my manager has all the tools to do the job? If I’m not, my manager is being thrown under the bus, whoever that manager is. The only one who isn’t getting thrown under the bus is the guy who goes against me, and that was Benitez.
"That’s why I bring Benitez back into the equation – I think he’s disingenuous, not because I don’t think he’s a good manager.
"I also think that if Steve Bruce takes this side down and puts Newcastle in the Championship, he deserves to be sacked. I think he deserved to be barracked for losing to Sheffield United and Brentford. That’s fair game.
"But some of the players you’ve got there are really poor.”
Newcastle face a must-win relegation clash with fellow strugglers West Brom on Saturday, and could slip into the bottom three depending on how results elsewhere pan out.