(Reuters) - Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce admits he has “big shoes to fill” as he steps in to replace fan-favourite Rafa Benitez, but is determined to prove his doubters wrong.
Bruce took charge of Newcastle on Wednesday as unhappy supporters took to social media to vent their anger over club owner Mike Ashley’s running of the club.
The Twitter hashtag #BruceOut was trending already after the announcement, while online bookmaker Betway posted odds of 6/4 for him to be fired before the end of the campaign.
Bruce, who was born near Newcastle and supported the club as a boy, has flown to China to meet his players.
“I’m like every other Geordie, I’ve lived the dream,” Bruce told NUFC TV in Shanghai, where Newcastle will face West Ham United in the Premier League Asia Trophy on Saturday.
“If you can’t play for them, then of course if you’re a Geordie, what better thing than to take the number one seat? I’m delighted to have been given the opportunity and I’ll do my best.
“I know in some people’s eyes, I’m not Rafa and I understand there are big shoes to fill. But believe me, I’ll give it everything I possibly can and, hopefully, prove the doubters wrong.”
Newcastle are yet to sign any players in the transfer window and have lost strikers Salomon Rondon and Ayoze Perez, who scored more than half their Premier League goals last season.
“When you get the call, the first thing you look at is the squad, and of course we’re aware that we’ve lost Rondon and Ayoze, so we’re short in that little area and we’re working on that,” Bruce added.
“But the squad is littered with some very, very good players and that’s why it’s been able to stay in the Premier League. It’s my job now to try to move us forward as best as we possibly can and I’ll do my utmost to try to achieve that.”
Bruce played for Manchester United from 1987-96 and has managed several clubs including Newcastle’s local rivals Sunderland from 2009-11.
Newcastle begin the Premier League campaign with a home game against Arsenal on Aug. 11.
Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru, editing by Ed Osmond