Steve Bruce knows the one thing he must do to win round disheartened Newcastle fans
The Toon chief knows that the only way he can unite a fanbase alienated by Mike Ashley’s regime and ripped apart following Rafa Benitez exit, is by winning games.
The trip to former club Norwich may only be the Magpies’ second game of the season but its importance cannot be overstated in the wake of the home defeat at the hands of Arsenal.
Win at Carrow Road and Bruce is up and running but lose and with trips to Tottenham and Liverpool on the horizon, he knows all the ingredients are in place for a troubled club to plummet headlong into full-blown crisis mode.
The Geordie had no illusions about the job he was taking on and the level of discontent that exists among the fanbase.
And even though last Sunday’s boycott was not an overriding success, he accepts that right now, Newcastle is very much dis-united.
“That’s my biggest challenge,” he said.
“Can I try to repair it? Can I try to help in this situation?
“The only way I can do that is to get a few results and give them a team that they enjoy watching.
“Whether that is possible, only time will tell.”
Bruce insists he’s been inundated with good luck messages and whenever he comes across fans, the vibes are good.
But he’s also well aware how popular his predecessor was and how “together” the club felt with Benitez in charge.
“Newcastle is at its best when it’s united and the supporters were right behind Rafa,” he added.
“Given time, I hope it’s the same but I’ve said many times, I’m not Rafa and I’m not many people’s cup of tea but hopefully, I can give them a team which, eventually, they will associate with and come round.
“I can’t speak for all of them but those I’ve met have come up and shook my hand and wished me luck.
“They accept I’m not Rafa Benitez but they want to help me if they can.”
Newcastle did not win until November 4 last term.
Bruce knows a similar run would not be tolerated this time – certainly not by the fanbase.
“I do not think I will be entitled to that,” he said.
“10 or 11 games he was afforded and there was not a murmur from the ground.
“I will not have that luxury so I’d like a win at Norwich if I possibly can and then there’s a nice easy one at Tottenham next week then, Liverpool two weeks later.
“But I’ve never had it easy. I’ll work hard, have a go and won’t be frightened of anything.”