Steve Bruce has had to deal with the constant comparisons to Rafa Benitez after his arrival at St James’ Park and the boyhood Magpies fan is approaching a crucial period of the season as he attempts to keep Newcastle in the Premier League.

Newcastle are currently seven points clear of the drop zone after an impressive run of form during the latter stages of 2019 which saw Bruce’s men take points off Manchester City, Chelsea, Southampton and Sheffield United.

It has been a bumpy road for Bruce, who has had to deal with plenty of questions about his future, the club’s ownership, potential takeovers and the aforementioned Benitez, who remains a huge favourite with the supporters at St James’ Park after guiding the club back up from the Championship.

Anybody looking for the best football and cricket betting tips would be well aware that the Magpies were among the early favourites to go down this season after Benitez’s decision to swap Tyneside for the Chinese Super League.

With Norwich being cut adrift at the bottom of the table, this has left two positions up for grabs as clubs battle it out to stay in the Premier League. In the near future, Newcastle face tough games against teams around them, with fixtures against Aston Villa, Bournemouth, Brighton and West Ham to come.

If Bruce can take points from those around them, then it appears that he will have done enough to keep his boyhood side afloat, despite a mixed run of form since the turn of the year.

While it’s not been easy for Bruce, who has had to deal with an injury-riddled squad and a misfiring £40 million striker, he looks set to achieve his main aim of keeping Newcastle safe and maybe, just maybe, the comparisons to Rafa Benitez can finally come to a close.