Steve Bruce has 'no opinion' on Newcastle takeover saga, says David Moyes is 'already' Manager of the Year

Newcastle head coach's focus is on the task of completing a double over this season's Premier League surprise package when old foe David Moyes brings his team to St James' Park; follow Newcastle vs West Ham live on Sky Sports Premier League and Main Event from 12pm; kick-off 12.30pm

West Ham United manager David Moyes (left) and Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce prior to kick-off of the Premier League match at London Stadium.
Image: Steve Bruce got the better of David Moyes in the reverse fixture last year

Steve Bruce will go head-to-head with his Manager of the Year on Saturday ignoring the latest developments in Newcastle's long-running takeover saga.

The Magpies' head coach is focusing simply on the task of completing a double over this season's Premier League surprise package when old foe David Moyes brings his team to St James' Park on Saturday, live on Sky Sports.

He will do so at the end of a week which has seen his club catapulted into the headlines once again amid claims that Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman asked Boris Johnson to intervene in the sale process, with Downing Street insisting the Prime Minister did not do so.

Asked how his week had been following Sunday's priceless 2-1 victory at Burnley, Bruce said with a smile: "It's been very quiet for a change - but then again, there's a takeover on the horizon, isn't there?"

Pressed on the takeover situation, he added: "I've got no opinion on it whatsoever. I don't know enough about it, I don't know where it sits, where it is. I'm really genuinely focused on how we go and get a result against West Ham."

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Newcastle beat the Hammers 2-0 a the London Stadium on the opening day of the season, but David Moyes' side have prospered since and will arrive on Tyneside sitting fourth in the table ahead of Chelsea, champions Liverpool and Tottenham and targeting Champions League qualification.

That would be a remarkable achievement for a side which was fighting for top-flight survival towards the end of last season, and Bruce believes Moyes, whose January loan move for Jesse Lingard had proved a masterstroke, deserves huge credit.

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He said: "For me, Moyesy is already the Manager of the Year no matter what happens. To keep them there or thereabouts in the top four and vying for Champions League places with six, seven games to go is a wonderful achievement by them all.

"They've had a great season, so it's a big, difficult game ahead, of course."

Everton v West Ham United - Premier League - Goodison Park
West Ham United manager David Moyes before the Premier League match at Goodison Park, Liverpool. 0:41
Newcastle head coach Steve Bruce says he is 'delighted' for West Ham manager David Moyes with the Hammers currently in the top four

Bruce's men will head into a testing fixture buoyed by a first win in eight games and just their third in 20 league outings, which lifted them six points clear of the drop zone, and by the return of both leading scorer Callum Wilson and livewire sidekick Allan Saint-Maximin from injury.

With Liverpool, Arsenal, Leicester and Manchester City to come in their next four games, chances to add to their points tally of 32 may be in short supply with the finishing line agonisingly close.

Bruce said: "For the last 10 years, it's been around 35, 36 points, but it might be more this year. Who knows?"

Newcastle vs West Ham on Sky

Newcastle vs West Ham

Newcastle vs West Ham will be shown live on Sky Sports Premier League and Main Event from 12pm on Saturday; kick-off 12.30pm. Sky Sports customers can watch in-game clips in the live match blog on the Sky Sports website and app. Highlights will also be published on the Sky Sports digital platforms and the Sky Sports Football YouTube channel shortly after the final whistle.

Jones Knows prediction

Regular readers won't be surprised to see I'm well against West Ham here at Evens. It's news that will be greeted with great celebration in east London as the Hammers have made making me look stupid an art form this season.

A haul of nine points from their last three games - all 3-2 victories having raced into a 3-0 lead - has catapulted David Moyes' side right into the top-four mix. They are 7/4 with Sky Bet to cap a remarkable season by qualifying for the Champions League and look home and hosed for a top-six finish at 2/9.

However, not for the first time this season, I'm deeming their recent run of results unsustainable on the basis of their performances. The nine goals scored in their last three games have been amassed from an expected goal figure of just 4.83, much to the individual brilliance of Messi, I mean, Jesse, Lingard.

Steve Bruce 0:39
Steve Bruce says Newcastle's early kick-off against West Ham on Saturday is a 'really good opportunity' to put 'even more daylight' between them and their relegation rivals

Unsurprisingly, their shot conversion rate of 32 per cent over the past three fixtures is the highest amassed by any team.

West Ham are scoring goals at key moments in matches despite not creating clear-cut chances. Fine margins can't keep falling in their favour and at the prices I'm happy to row in with Newcastle, who should have Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin fit to play from the start - an upgrade that takes them from relegation fodder to a dangerous mid-table outfit. At 13/5 with Sky Bet, Newcastle should be backed to do the double over the Hammers having won 2-0 in the reverse fixture on the opening day.

Those that aren't quite brave enough to take on such an in-form team in West Ham should perhaps play a bit safer with the 6/4 on offer for Newcastle to have 14 or more shots.

With Saint-Maximin, Miguel Almiron and Wilson all on the pitch, Newcastle are averaging a whopping 14.9 shots at goal per 90 minutes - a huge increase on their overall average which is 10.9 per 90 minutes since Bruce took the job.

And despite winning four of their last five matches, West Ham have actually faced the most shots on their goal of any Premier League team in that period (83), averaging out at a whopping 16.6 per 90 minutes. They can be got at.

JONES KNOWS PREDICTS: 2-1

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