Steve Bruce was sacked with full £8m payoff after toxic atmosphere

Steve Bruce was sacked with an £8million pay-off on Wednesday after Newcastle’s Saudi owners acted in the wake of defeat in their first game at St James’ Park.

Sources say it was always the intention to replace the 60-year-old, but the performance and toxic atmosphere towards the end of the 3-2 loss to Tottenham brought home the need for immediate action.

They feared the team would struggle to pick up another point without a change and Graeme Jones has been placed in temporary charge for Saturday’s trip to Crystal Palace. Among those being considered as Bruce’s permanent replacement are Paulo Fonseca, Roberto Martinez, Lucien Favre, Eddie Howe and Rudi Garcia.

Talks are under way — Fonseca was in discussions yesterday — and an appointment is expected next week.

The presence of new chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan at Sunday’s game was said to be significant in accelerating the process to remove Bruce. Co-owner Amanda Staveley had made him aware of the nature of supporters’ chants calling for the manager to be sacked.

There was also concern among some around the consortium when Sportsmail revealed this week that captain Jamaal Lascelles and team-mate Isaac Hayden had to be pulled apart by staff after the game, leading to a sense of ‘dysfunction’ behind the scenes.

We understand Bruce left with his full £8m severance package — a legacy of previous owner Mike Ashley’s reign — and that he indicated he wanted to go, leading to a statement yesterday morning which used the phrase ‘mutual consent’.

It is thought that Bruce’s departure was met with relief among a significant section of the dressing room and, as of last night, only Allan Saint-Maximin had posted a message on social media in support of the head coach.

‘You are, without a doubt, one of the most gentle people that I have ever met in the world of football,’ he said. ‘You have been a man of your word, a caring man and a fair man who never hesitated to protect us. It has been an honour and a privilege to have you as a coach.’

Bruce, meanwhile, told The Telegraph in an interview yesterday: ‘I think this might be my last job. By the time I got to Newcastle, I thought I could handle everything thrown at me but it has been very, very tough.

‘To never really be wanted, to feel that people wanted me to fail, to read people constantly saying I would fail, that I was useless, a fat waste of space, a stupid, tactically inept cabbage head or whatever.’

Former Roma boss Fonseca, who came close to taking over at Spurs this summer, held talks yesterday with members of the club’s new-look hierarchy.

The 48-year-old is understood to have already started to put together strategies for the team’s forthcoming fixtures in the event of securing the job.

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