Steve Bruce: Newcastle manager says he has 'big boots to fill'

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'Whoever was going to sit in this seat was going to find it difficult' - Steve Bruce

New Newcastle manager Steve Bruce says whoever replaced Rafael Benitez at St James' Park "would find it tough".

Some fans have threatened to boycott the club after ex-Sunderland boss Bruce succeeded the Spaniard on Wednesday.

Benitez left the Magpies when his contract expired in June, saying the club "did not share his vision".

"Make no mistake, this is going to be difficult. I have big boots to fill," Bruce, 58, said at a news conference on Friday.

Newcastle legend Alan Shearer previously said he had warned Bruce not to take the Magpies job.

"Alan Shearer is a friend of mine and he is entitled to his opinions," Bruce said.

"I am not Rafa Benitez and whoever took the seat would find it tough. I am happy to be sitting here."

Steve Bruce - competitive record (all comps)
Games: 904 Wins: 348 Draws: 227 Losses: 329
Win percentage: 38.5%

Bruce, who was born near Newcastle and was a boyhood Magpies fan, said he could not say no to the job a second time having turned down the chance to succeed Sir Bobby Robson while Birmingham manager in 2004.

"I know in some people's eyes I'm not Rafa. I understand there are big shoes to fill. But I'll give it everything I possibly can," Bruce earlier told nufcTV.

"Back a few years ago, I regretted it. I regretted it and it lingered around me for years, when Sir Bobby left.

"To be given the opportunity again, it was simply something I had to take. I had to grasp it."

On some of the negative reaction from the club's supporters, Bruce said: "I haven't been there [Newcastle] to monitor it and thankfully I don't read it. I accept I am not everyone's cup of tea, but judge me over a period of time. I am quietly confident I will do OK."

In a later interview with Sky Sports, Bruce said he had spoken to "open and honest" owner Mike Ashley about transfer budgets, adding: "I'm under no illusions, there's a bit to do.

"I'm going to need all of my 20 years experience to get my way through choppy waters. But I've got skin as think as an elephant!"

Lascelles asks for fans to stay positive

Meanwhile, Newcastle captain Jamaal Lascelles has called criticism of the club "frustrating", saying that players and fans must support new boss Bruce.

"It is frustrating because [the reaction to news] is never positive," Lascelles said after Wednesday's 4-0 defeat by Wolves in Nanjing.

"We're always being told we're not good enough or we're not doing something right [as a club].

"You need to look forward, we've got a great manager coming in and we need to remain positive."

Lascelles also addressed recent negative press coverage that has suggested Newcastle could struggle next season and focused on their transfer activity, with forwards Ayoze Perez and Salomon Rondon leaving the club - Perez signing for Leicester for £30m and Rondon departing at the end of his loan spell.

"As players we try to ignore all that and try to work hard and do the right things, that is all we can do, we can't control anything else," Lascelles added.

"It's going to be a new challenge, a whole new formation, tactics and instructions to what we've been used to the last few years."

Newcastle's Premier League campaign begins at home to Arsenal on 11 August.

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