Steve Bruce believes finishing in the top half of the Premier League would be a step in the right direction for Newcastle but the Magpies head coach admitted even that aim represents a sizeable challenge.
Newcastle have settled for 13th place in the last two seasons, a far cry from when Kevin Keegan’s ‘Entertainers’ were challenging for the title during the formative years of the Premier League.
Bruce is realistic about Newcastle’s standing nowadays and lamented the collapse of a Saudi Arabian-backed takeover in the summer, which he feels may have taken the club “to the next level”.
But he insisted financial might alone is not an indicator of success, pointing out Burnley were able to claim 10th spot last season despite being among the division’s lowest spenders.
“If the takeover had have happened with the consortium over the summer then it might have taken us to the next level,” Bruce said ahead of the visit of Everton to St James’ Park on Sunday afternoon.
“But we are where we are and my job is inch-by-inch to keep us trying to improve.
“Let’s be brutally honest here, you look at the top 10 and what they’ve done then it’s very, very difficult with where we are at this particular moment but that’s got to be the aim.
“We’d all love to be competing where the club was 20 years ago or whenever it was.
“But the way we are at the minute we have to accept that’s the way it is and try to keep moving inch-by-inch closer to what we’re trying to do – which is definitely finish in the top 10.”
Former Newcastle midfielder Kieron Dyer last week urged his old club to be more adventurous going forwards, saying he has grown “bored” of watching them in the last five years.
Bruce was diplomatic in his response, drawing attention to the fact he has only been at the club for a little more than a year since succeeding Rafael Benitez while rejecting Dyer’s assertions.
Bruce added: “We’ll never be a boring club. I’ve only been here 15 months so the three-and-a-half years before me gives me a bit of a solace when we had one of the best managers in the world here.
“I’ll live with his assessment of it, I don’t particularly agree that Newcastle are boring. It’s not in the DNA here. But I respect what he says and he’s entitled to his opinion.”