Steve Bruce believes Mike Ashley 'taking an interest' and watching Newcastle United play can only be a 'good thing' - but the Magpies' head coach admits his side's inconsistency has to be addressed after the club's owner witnessed two very different performances.
Ashley was spotted watching Newcastle play against Rochdale and Oxford United in the FA Cup last season, but it has not been common for the billionaire to attend back-to-back league fixtures in recent times.
Already, just a couple of weeks into the new campaign, the Newcastle owner has personally witnessed the black-and-whites' 2-0 win at West Ham on the opening day of the season and the 3-0 defeat against Brighton at St James' Park eight days later.
Ashley, who had hoped to sell the club to a Saudi-backed consortium last summer, met Newcastle's new signings at the training ground earlier this month before taking the squad out for dinner and Bruce has been encouraged by his renewed interest.
"I'm pleased that the owner is taking an interest," he told reporters on a Zoom call. "It's far better that he takes an interest than he doesn't, that's for sure.
"I'm sure, like the rest of us, he will have been disappointed with what he saw at the weekend from his team. If the owner is taking an interest, I'm all for it. It can only be a good thing."
Given how well his side played at the London Stadium little more than a week previously, Bruce opted to name an unchanged side for the visit of Brighton on Sunday.
But the Magpies were 2-0 down with just eight minutes on the clock against the Seagulls and ultimately failed to even have a shot on target.
"That's the one thing that we have to address," Bruce said. "Unfortunately, I didn't see that coming whatsoever. We got off to the worst possible start and if you look at one to 11, certainly, we were nowhere near the standard we set the week before individually and collectively.
"There lies the worst problem of all. Inconsistency is something which unfortunately in my time has been difficult so we have to improve on that and we can't just keep going like this.
"You're going to get beat in the Premier League but it's sometimes the manner of it and, certainly, at the weekend, it was not acceptable. It was far too easy for Brighton right across the pitch and that's something we have to improve on and I'll strive to do that."
As well as naming an unchanged XI against Brighton, Bruce kept faith with the 4-4-2 formation that worked well at West Ham but the system came unstuck against Graham Potter's 3-4-3 after the Magpies' poor start on Sunday.
After bringing on Miguel Almiron at half-time, the Magpies switched to a 4-3-3 and it will be interesting to see how Bruce approaches the upcoming games against Morecambe and Spurs.
"To be fair, late in the second half, Brighton went to a 4-4-2 so I think we all have to have a different formation," he added. "Of course, I knew it was going to be difficult against Brighton in a 4-4-2 but I thought we would cause them more problems playing that way.
"In hindsight, we got beat and I've picked the wrong team. That's normal. I picked the wrong formation. That's normal, too. That's always the difficult part of it and here in Newcastle, for example, it gets dissected more than most.
"When you look at it individually and collectively, we didn't perform at all and that was across the board. When you get those types of games, you hope it's not that often. That's for sure."