For many, the words love affair and Steve Bruce do not belong in the same sentence.
For Bruce, love is possibly the one thing standing between him and the exit door at Newcastle.
Allan Saint-Maximin delivered another breathtaking performance, with the Frenchman’s brilliant goal and all-round effort earning the Magpies a point at home to Leeds United. He was the one bright spot, but it was not enough to drown out the “Bruce Out!” chants at St James’ Park on Friday night.
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The Magpies faithful may have been fuelled by what is on offer at some of the Quayside’s finest establishments, but the discontent has been growing for some time.
Saint-Maximin appears to be the one man standing between Bruce’s Newcastle and an extremely bleak winter.
“To be honest, I really love Steve Bruce because he gives me a chance to show my quality in the Premier League with Newcastle,” Saint-Maximin told Sky Sports. "I know for every manager it’s difficult. Sometimes you have a good time, sometimes you have a bad time but we are together and we have to stay together.”
Love only goes so far. The Frenchman will need strength as well, given he is carrying a poor Newcastle side.
With Callum Wilson struggling with injuries, Saint-Maximin has scant support in the attacking third.
Joelinton’s agent is still rubbing his hands with glee after Newcastle were minded to pay £40 million for the Brazilian. Adaptation can no longer be offered up as an excuse for his shortcomings, which were on show against Leeds. For a strapping individual, he is too easily shrugged off the ball and his finishing is woeful. That's not a great mix for a centre forward.
Miguel Almiron would run through a brick wall if Bruce asked him to, but he’d almost certainly emerge on the other side of the wall having tripped over the ball.

Miguel Almiron reacts after missing a penalty for Newcastle vs Burnley, Carabao Cup, St James' Park, Newcastle, August 25, 2021

Image credit: Getty Images

Joe Willock possesses quality and has a capacity to get into the box from midfield, but there is little else for Magpies fans to cling to.
Bruce is well aware of his side’s shortcomings, and has been following a blueprint of keeping things tight at the back and eking out results. Opposition teams are wise to it now, and the 22 shots from Leeds suggests the Magpies are far too porous to pull off that trick again.
In the previous couple of seasons, there were teams that had more shortcomings than Newcastle. In the current campaign, it’s not obvious - possibly Norwich aside - who those sides are.
The onus really is on Saint-Maximin. He arrived on Tyneside with a repertoire of tricks, but a lack of substance. Stepovers and slaloming runs got the fans out of their seats, but there was a concern about his end product.

Saint-Maximin celebrates his equaliser

Image credit: Getty Images

In the past 12 months, the Frenchman has begun to deliver on the latter - and clearly relishes the freedom Bruce affords him.
He has affection for his manager and has taken to life on Tyneside, but at some stage he will look around him and wonder if love is enough.
Owner Mike Ashley has no desire to dip into his vast wealth to strengthen Bruce’s options, to be fair he did write a cheque for £40m for Joelinton so it's tough to blame him on that score, and takeover talk has gone quiet.
The fear for Magpies supporters is if Ashley begins to feel Saint-Maximin’s stock is about to peak and opts to cash in.
A Newcastle without Saint-Maximin does not bear thinking about for Bruce and Magpies fans, but it could become a reality if a suitable support cast is not found.
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