Former Newcastle United winger John Barnes has sent a pointed message to fans of his former club.
The Magpies remain in a difficult situation with support for manager Steve Bruce hardly overwhelming and support for owner Mike Ashley somewhere around zero.
But according to Barnes, the two factors go hand-in-hand, the Liverpool legend believing that the Newcastle United fans’ patience is thin because of Ashley, leading to a short leash for the manager.
And so when the Magpies start the season like they have, with three defeats and a draw, including a Carabao Cup exit to Burton Albion, fans are always likely to be quick to put pressure on the manager.
In this case, that is Bruce, with Barnes claiming in an interview with BonusCodeBets: “If you win football matches you survive. They haven’t started particularly well and the fans are on their back.
“If he doesn’t turn it around there’ll be calls for his head, as there always have been. But you know what football is like – you start to win matches and things can change.
“Unfortunately, because of the Mike Ashley situation, Newcastle will always have that. I always say to Newcastle fans, if you want the team to stay in the division you’ve got to support the team.
“I don’t think it’s necessarily Steve Bruce, it’s the fact that he was appointed by Mike Ashley and he’s seen as a Mike Ashley man.
“Unfortunately for the fans, the next person is going to be a Mike Ashley man as well. It’s going to be a hard few months for Bruce.
“I think he’s a scapegoat at Newcastle because the fans don’t like Ashley. They’ll say it’s because of the football he’s playing or whatever.
“Until the ownership situation is resolved, Newcastle are always going to be a club in a bit of disarray from the fans’ perspective.”
Newcastle United fans are not likely to respond particularly well to being told how they should support the club, but as Barnes eludes to, the club is in a sticky position and fans are likely to be subject to more disappointment as Ashley continues to run the club in a way they disapprove of.