Steve Bruce said he faced a huge challenge after being appointed manager of Newcastle United on a three-year contract on Wednesday.

The 58-year-old former Sunderland and Aston Villa boss replaces popular Spaniard Rafa Benitez, who left St James’ Park last month after failing to agree a contract extension with club owner Mike Ashley.

“This is my boyhood club and it was my dad’s club, so this is a very special moment for me and my family,” Bruce told the Newcastle website after taking the official title of head coach.

“There is a huge challenge ahead of us, but it’s one that my staff and I are ready for. We’ll roll our sleeves up and we’ll be giving it everything from the off to ensure supporters have a successful team that they can be proud of.”

Championship (second tier) side Sheffield Wednesday, Bruce’s previous employers, responded by saying they were disappointed to hear the news via a public statement and were taking legal advice.

Bruce’s chances of success are complicated by an owner who wants to sell the big but perennially under-performing club, and unhappy fans increasingly venting their anger at the lack of funds and ambition.

The Magpies have yet to sign any players in the transfer window and have lost strikers Salomon Rondon and Ayoze Perez, who scored more than half of the side’s Premier League goals last season.

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