Newcastle mark Bruce appointment with 4-0 loss to Wolves
The scale of the task facing new head coach Steve Bruce was laid bare as Newcastle United were thrashed 4-0 by Premier League rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers in China on Wednesday.
Former Manchester United defender Bruce, whose appointment was confirmed just hours before kick-off, will jet over to take charge of Newcastle’s next friendly, in Shanghai on Saturday.
It was only a low-key exhibition match, but the heavy defeat to Nuno Espirito Santo’s Wolves in Nanjing was more evidence that Newcastle are likely to be battling relegation this season.
Diogo Jota struck twice in the first half as demoralised Newcastle wilted alarmingly in the heat.
The Portuguese forward rifled one in via a slight deflection on 15 minutes.
Morgan Gibbs-White, the promising England midfielder, scored a neat second from outside the box shortly after 30 minutes to affirm Chinese-owned Wolves’ vast superiority.
It was 3-0 when Jota grabbed his second, robbing Isaac Hayden in the box before firing past Karl Darlow in the Newcastle goal.
Nanjing’s Olympic stadium was about two-thirds full for the first match of a double-header in the Premier League Asia Trophy.
Champions Manchester City was to play West Ham United in the next match.
Wolves and Newcastle, under the interim stewardship of Ben Dawson, fielded something close to their full-strength sides, but Wolves were comfortable throughout.
They made it 4-0 with five minutes left through a headed own goal by Thomas Allan.
Bruce, a life-long Newcastle fan, is in urgent need of signings, particularly upfront after they sold Ayoze Perez to Leicester and lost Salomon Rondon.
But it was his defence which was particularly culpable on Wednesday.
The 58-year-old Bruce, a former manager of rivals Sunderland, succeeds the hugely popular Rafael Benitez.