Newcastle hires Steve Bruce as coach to replace Benitez

NEWCASTLE, England (AP) — Newcastle has hired Steve Bruce to replace Rafael Benitez as manager of the Premier League team.

The Magpies said in a club statement on Wednesday: “Newcastle United can now announce that Steve Bruce has been appointed as the club’s new head coach.”

The 58-year-old Bruce signed a three-year deal. He left his job at Sheffield Wednesday to become the 10th permanent boss under owner Mike Ashley.

Bruce says, “This is my boyhood club and it was my dad’s club, so this is a very special moment for me and my family. There is a huge challenge ahead of us, but it’s one that my staff and I are ready for.”

Newcastle failed to agree a contract extension in June with Benitez, who has since taken over at Chinese Super League side Dalian Yifang.

Benitez couldn’t stop Newcastle being relegated when he joined in March 2016, but helped the team immediately bounce back into the Premier League the following season. Finishing 10th and 13th in the last two seasons cemented Newcastle’s place in the top flight and Benitez’s status as a fan favorite.