Steve Bruce has never been more wrong about Newcastle supporters after bizarre Chronicle rant
Cristiano Ronaldo's memorable second debut, naturally, made headlines around the world but a very different story is now dominating the agenda on Tyneside. And it has nothing to do with what happened during the Magpies' 4-1 defeat against Manchester United on Saturday.
Rather, it was Steve Bruce's belief that the Chronicle had, somehow, played a part in the away end turning on their own manager.
"That's why they're the way they are," Bruce fumed after my colleague, Lee, asked about the preparations for the trip to Old Trafford in the post-match press conference.
Trust me, Newcastle supporters can make their own minds up on what they see and hear without the influence of the Chronicle or the Journal for that matter.
They're intelligent, loyal fans who are not swayed by others when they're spending their own money to follow their side across the country.
So, with that in mind, let's make a few things clear:
1. It was not the local journalists in the press box orchestrating the 'We want Brucie out' chants at St James' Park last month or, indeed, at Old Trafford on Saturday.
2. It was not the local journalists in the press box who let Manchester United run riot in the closing stages of the game.
3. It was not the local journalists in the press box who contributed to Newcastle claiming just one point from 12, being knocked out of the League Cup in August and having a disappointing transfer window to boot.
Admittedly, when it comes to that final point, Bruce wanted to supplement Joe Willock's welcome arrival with two further loan signings. But who backed the Newcastle head coach when the hierarchy dragged their feet? This correspondent, for one.
When supporters expressed their grave concerns about Bruce's appointment in 2019, who went to the effort of tracking down those key figures in his past to try and at least give the new manager the benefit of the doubt and give fans an idea of what to expect? This correspondent, for one.
Bruce has repeatedly referred to Newcastle a 'big' club, but the 60-year-old has never been comfortable with the scrutiny that comes with being a Premier League manager in 2021.
Whether you are Pep Guardiola or Daniel Farke, awkward questions are asked of managers if they are losing games. By the same token, credit is given when things are going well and Bruce did get his share following Newcastle's brilliant finish last season. Surely Bruce knows this is how it works by now?
It is important to stress, of course, that head coaches have every right to fight their corner, but Bruce blaming a local newspaper for supporters turning on him is reaching. And some.
The reality is that stadiums were a safe haven for Bruce last season. No matter how bad it got - two wins in 21 games incidentally - there were no fans inside the arenas to physically vent. Supporters instead made their feelings clear on social media, but this was not taken seriously by the hierarchy.
However, now that fans are back inside grounds, Bruce no longer has that safety net and, deep down, it must hurt.
But is that a reason to lash out at the local newspaper which, at worst, should just be seen as a minor inconvenience in the grand scheme of things? Bruce is in charge of his own destiny, after all, and can change the narrative by winning games.
Instead, this sharp press conference was a hark back to a dark winter's night following the Boxing Day defeat against Man City when Bruce hit out at the 'histrionics' and 'mass hysteria' that followed Newcastle's cup exit against Brentford's second string a few days previously.
Aston Villa and Sunderland supporters were familiar with such language despite Bruce often claiming he has a 'thick skin' and that the 'sickness' in him 'enjoys the stick'.
The evidence would suggest otherwise.
We want to hear your thoughts on this story, so LOG IN and leave your comment below