On Wednesday, Newcastle United appointed Steve Bruce as their new manager.
Bruce has signed a three-year contract on Tyneside after leaving his post at Sheffield Wednesday earlier in the week.
The 62-year-old spent just over six months at the Owls and recorded just seven wins in 18 games as his side fell just short of the Sky Bet Championship play-off places.
Bruce replaces the highly-popular Rafael Benitez in the hot seat, and he has quite a task to replicate the Spaniards success at the club.
In Benitez’s three and a half years at Newcastle, he managed to take the club back up to the Premier League and secured two mid-table finishes with a fairly small budget.
To add salt into the wounds, last season’s top scorer Ayoze Perez has signed for Leicester, and striker Salomon Rondon has joined Chinese outfit Dalian Yifang.
But how big of a job is it for Bruce?
Newcastle have a massive fan base – there’s no doubt about that. But are their expectations too high with a squad that in recent seasons has punched above their weight?
Bruce has come in with the Magpies yet to make a summer signing, and with just three weeks until the transfer window shuts, they need to strengthen sooner rather than later.
Newcastle have lost 79% of their league goals from last term in Perez and Rondon. And with the current inflated market, proven Premier League goal scorers are hard to find and afford in this day of age.
However, many clubs go into the European Market to find ‘hidden gems’, such as Perez and the likes of Christian Benteke [when he signed for Aston Villa from Genk] and Raul Jimenez [at Wolves], but with the squad lacking goals in it, is Bruce willing to take the gamble?
Japanese forward Yoshinori Muto hasn’t hit the heights that he was much anticipated to do so since joining from Mainz last summer, but with their two key men departing, it could well be his season to step up and fill their shoes.
Dwight Gayle is a player that has returned from his loan spell at the Baggies. The prolific frontman scored 24 Championship goals last term. Can Bruce get the best out of a player that has yet to prove him self in the top-flight. I’m not so sure.
Reports are linking Hoffenheim’s Joelinton with a transfer to the club. The Brazilian striker scored seven Bundesliga goals last term but I’m not convinced that at this current time he will be able to solve those offensive problems. He is still only 22 though and has time to develop into a top player.
On the other hand, Newcastle’s defensive record last season was pretty good. They conceded the least amount of the goals out of the bottom 11 sides in the division and also kept 11 clean sheets. How much was that down to Benitez’s tactics and shape?
Fabian Schar has proved to be a bargain, impressing in his debut season at the club – with fellow centre back’s Ciaran Clark and Jamaal Lascelles also having an astute 2018/19 campaign’s.
But some of the defending in Newcastle’s 4-0 pre-season defeat against Wolves in the Asia Trophy was ‘schoolboy’ at times – and they were being ripped apart all over the park. A side that looked lacking of confidence and lacking of belief.
All in all Bruce has got a difficult task in his hand but can fix those problems at the club and deliver success on Tyneside? Only time will tell.