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Jan 14, 2020 at 7.45pm UK
NewcastleNewcastle United
4-1
Rochdale
O'Connell (17' og.), Longstaff (20'), Almiron (26'), Joelinton (82')
FT(HT: 3-0)
Williams (86')
/esi/1339/6_G_1_104690/index.html?art_id=386017&game_id=104690&sport_id=1&ESI

Steve Bruce: 'I don't want to be labelled a puppet again'

:Headline: Steve Bruce: 'I don't want to be labelled a puppet again':
The Magpies owner sanctioned a £40million club record transfer swoop last summer.
PA | 4d

Steve Bruce has insisted he is nobody's puppet as he prepares to sit down with Newcastle owner Mike Ashley and discover if he is prepared to sanction another £20million transfer swoop.

The Magpies head coach has revealed he is due to meet the Sports Direct magnate in the next couple of days and with almost half of the January transfer window having passed already, the strength or otherwise of his current squad is likely to be a significant topic of conversation.

Bruce replaced Rafael Benitez last summer after the Spaniard – who had a fractious relationship with Ashley – opted not to sign a contract extension, and his more cordial relationship with the sportswear tycoon has provided fuel for his critics.

However, he said: "I certainly don't want to be labelled that puppet thing again. I was aware of people's thoughts, but that will never be the case – I will never be anybody's that.

"To take the club forward is all that I want to try to do. We want a bit of quality to take this club forward. If that takes a bit of time, it will have to take a bit of time.

"I want what's best for the club. If we can get somebody better, then I will try to ask that question."

Twelve months ago, Ashley bowed to Benitez's appeals for assistance when he broke the club's transfer record with a successful £21million bid for Paraguay international Miguel Almiron, and he smashed that new figure in July when he paid Hoffenheim £40million for striker Joelinton.

The Brazilian has struggled to find his feet in English football to date, although he could get another chance in Tuesday night's FA Cup third-round replay against League One Rochdale.

By contrast, Almiron has now started to add goals to his energetic displays with three in his last six games, and that is exactly the kind of quality Bruce would hope to attract this month rather than simply bringing in bodies.

He said: "He's a class act, a manager's dream. He trains every day, comes in, smiles...he's a very, very good player. He's been terrific these past 12 months.

"OK, he could have scored more goals, but that's the type of signing we need. If there's another similar kid out there, let's see if we can get them."

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3Leicester CityLeicester22143547212645
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Premier League Table
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Liverpool21201050143661
2Manchester CityMan City22152562253747
3Leicester CityLeicester22143547212645
4Chelsea22123739291039
5Manchester UnitedMan Utd2297636251134
6Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd228862421332
7Wolverhampton WanderersWolves2271053128331
8Tottenham HotspurSpurs228683631530
9Crystal Palace227872024-429
10Arsenal2261062931-228
11Everton2284102532-728
12Southampton2284102739-1228
13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle2275102134-1326
14Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton2266102530-524
15Burnley2273122437-1324
16West Ham UnitedWest Ham2164112533-822
17Watford2257102034-1422
18Aston Villa2263132843-1521
19Bournemouth2255122035-1520
20Norwich CityNorwich2235142245-2314
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