I suppose I may risk coming over as a bit of a soft shite in the next few paragraphs but this is sincere.

Steve Bruce should stand down as Head Coach of Newcastle United. I’m not suggesting he resigns forthwith and leaves himself with a huge financial liability but he does need to speak with his agent and solicitor about extricating himself from his contract with Newcastle United. He should ask to meet with Lee Charnley and work out a way of ending his employment at SJP. It is in the club’s best interests but similarly it’s also in the interests of Steve Bruce. We are at a classic point where a “mutual consent” type situation is the best outcome for all parties.

For whatever we all think of Steve Bruce’s qualities as a coach or manager, he is a man, flesh and blood and with a family who know and love him. I don’t know him at all but I’ve yet to speak to anyone who has had any experience of him who doesn’t think he’s a good bloke. In part I think this explains the loyalty he generates from some local journalists (he was a good friend of Sir Bobby Robson and done work with the SBRF) and those he has known in the game over his life-time as team-mates and opponents.  Most have an enduring affection for a gnarled, classic centre-half straight out of English football’s central casting.

Steve Bruce is 60 years of age. He has been in football all of his life. He scaled unimaginable heights when he left Wallsend for Gillingham, onto Norwich and then to Manchester United where he won most of the honours the game has to offer.

He played alongside stellar players – Bryan Robson, Cantona, Keane and many others. He was a key player under Alex Ferguson and as his captain helped end the Old Trafford club’s 26-year wait for a league title.

That he inspires affection amongst his peers is beyond question. He is homely with no edge and if there is one strength he possesses it is apparently his man-management. Players, we’re told, like him and he runs happy camps.

We know he is horribly out of his depth and out of date as a PL manager. And he has been for some time. The game has left him behind. He belongs to a bygone age. In many ways there are echoes of Jack Charlton’s and Graeme Souness’ time at United. Both were celebrated players but were locked in eras within club football which had passed them by. Their characters and experiences simply did not fit with the modern age of millionaire footballers from around the world with different cultural experiences to those drawn in British football of the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s.

Bruce played at the top of the game in the 80s and 90s. He should be a wealthy man, particularly after a further 20 years in management. Bruce cannot need the Newcastle United job for financial reasons.

It’s probably hypocritical of me in some regards because I have been as bad as any in excoriating Steve Bruce in the 18 months he has been at United. I never wanted him at the club because I suspected this situation would come to pass. I take no pleasure in seeing Bruce fail horribly now. Why would anyone who loves Newcastle United draw any pleasure from this?

I hoped the takeover would see him leave the club and he’d be able to point to a season finishing thirteenth, the club stable in the PL and then in the management of someone from further up the food chain of football management. I wouldn’t have begrudged him that. Alas, that was not to be.

I have read words written by Mags absolutely tearing him apart. I don’t disagree with much of the central critique that he isn’t good enough. But I do worry that it is becoming a feeding frenzy for a Black & White pack and we forget that Steve Bruce, away from football is a husband, father, friend etc. It can’t be any fun for those close to Bruce to read and hear the wounding criticism of their man. He isn’t a monster. He doesn’t strangle puppies. We’d do well to remember that I feel.

I have seen him in his press conferences growing ashen. He appears to be shrinking visibly in front of our eyes and there’s a part of me concerned for his health.

If Bruce cannot recognise this in himself then those around him should advise him accordingly.

It was widely reported his good friend Alan Shearer advised him against taking the Newcastle United job 20 months ago. That was wise counsel which he he chose to ignore. That was a mistake. In the cold, hard light of day, he knew what he was getting into at Ashley’s Newcastle United.

Even if Newcastle United was the best run club in the country, Bruce would still have struggled in the PL. But one run by Mike Ashley and with a cramping ambition only to remain in the PL and nothing more, crucifies anything Bruce might have hoped to have achieved. Overlay the crass manner in which Ashley runs United and he was never going to succeed. As Kevin Keegan memorably said eleven years ago – you can’t work with these people, there’s no trust.

Admitting to accepting a “remit” of only to keep Newcastle United bumping along as a PL bottom-feeder was his Gerald Ratner moment. That damned him.

I get a sense Bruce knows the jig is up. Managers don’t come back from situations like this and particularly not at Newcastle United with a support that was singularly under-whelmed by his appointment in 18 months ago. A support which has barely tolerated him since his clumsy appointment.

Bruce is unquestionably the lightening rod for wider unhappiness and disappointment amongst supporters rooted in the loss of Rafa Benitez, the breakdown in the takeover and the cumulative impact of what will be 14 years of Ashley’s soul destroying tenure at our club in May.

But Steve Bruce was never the right man for Newcastle United and he should take it in his own hands to get out before his continuing employment does more damage to the club and his reputation in the area he grew up in is remembered with contempt. If that means anything at all he will making that call to Charnley.

If, as many suspect, the protestations about not walking away and other clichés are simply cover for hanging about until he gets a pay-off in the inimitable fashion of Sam Allardyce and co then he can expect the situation to grow more toxic. He will receive zero tolerance and respect from a group of supporters of whom he claims to be one if he puts his own interests ahead of Newcastle United.

Bruce isn’t bad man. He’s simply out of his depth, not good enough and at 60 years of age, more than financially secure for life.

He needs to make some phone calls and become happier man.

Keep On, Keepin’ On …

MICHAEL MARTIN