STEVE BRUCE insists his only focus going into the New Year is leading Hull City to safety after ruling himself out of the running for the Newcastle United vacancy.
The lifelong Magpies fan, 54 yesterday, had been touted as a potential successor to Alan Pardew with various sources in the North East claiming he was keen on taking the job.
However, after moving to assure Tigers fans that he planned on sticking around in the East Riding, Bruce is now hoping that the curtailing of any speculation can help his side start 2015 in the perfect fashion with a home win today against Everton.
The City manager said last night: “I think every time it (the Newcastle job) has come up for the last 10 years, I seem to have been linked with it.
“I made a big error in 2006 when I had the opportunity to go when Sir Bobby Robson left. I stayed loyal to Birmingham. In hindsight, maybe I should have taken it then.
“It is highly flattering. I am a Geordie, a Newcastle fan. But, at the end of the day, I have turned down three opportunities (to work elsewhere) since I have been here and I don’t intend to go anywhere.
“That is the simple truth of it. Especially with the position we’re in now, I want to make sure we escape and stay in the division. I am staying here to make sure I see it through.”
Fulham, Crystal Palace and Southampton are believed to have all made overtures towards Bruce since he arrived in East Yorkshire in the summer of 2012 but all three were told, ‘Thanks but no thanks’.
Bruce’s loyalty to Hull chairman Assem Allam and his belief that something special is building at the KC were behind his rejection of those offers to move elsewhere.
Results recently, of course, have seen the Tigers manager’s own future called into doubt, something that Bruce believes is inevitable in a modern age where vexed supporters are quick to turn to social media to voice any displeasure.
“I don’t think any manager can genuinely say we are all safe,” he said. “There was a statement recently from West Brom that Alan Irvine would be safe, or so I read somewhere.
“It is the one thing that I don’t take for granted because we are all based on results. And, in the last two months, they haven’t been good enough for the standards we have set.”
Asked what he thought of those fans – admittedly a small number among the City support – who feel it is time for a change just six or so months since the club played in the FA Cup final, Bruce replied: “That is the nature of it now.
“It is ridiculous, though. This time last year, Sam Allardyce was being crucified at West Ham. He is a mate of mine and look at them now, around the top four.
“You look at his record and what he has done. There is a platform out there for people – internet, social media, radio, televison – and it is constant.
“If I was a player coming to the end of his career, I am not sure I would go into it (management). I’m not just talking about the Premier League, either.
“Look at the fall-out in the lower leagues and it is absolutely scary. The average (reign of a manager) is 12 or 13 months, that shows what a precarious industry this is.”
Bruce has a good relationship with City chairman Allam and they have formed a strong bond during the past two-and-a-half years.
However, when asked if he was confident of getting the same loyalty from the Tigers owner as he has shown the club by ruling out a possible move to Newcastle, Bruce said: “Listen, that is something you are going to have to ask him.
“The relationship I have got with the chairman is not something I’ll take for granted. I know the industry I am in. There will be people calling for my head now, believe me. Forget what has happened in the last two-and-a-half years, that is just the way it is.
“It is a bit fickle. I’m never going to take it for granted because we are all judged on results and mine, over the past few weeks, haven’t been good enough.
“What I will say is the owner is a terrific old man. There are not many who would have done what he has done for this club.
“I have got huge respect for what he has done and how he has treated me, how he lets me manage. I am very fortunate. That is why I have been loyal to him over the last two-and-a-half years.
“As I have said, I have had two or three big offers which didn’t make me change. The one thing I want now is to make sure is that everyone is focused, from the chairman right the way down to the supporters.”
James Chester returns to the squad along with Andrew Robertson but Stephen Quinn is banned.
Last six games: Hull City DDLLWL, Everton LLWLLL.
Referee: K Friend (Leicestershire).
Last time: Hull City 0 Everton 2; May 11, 2014; Premier League.