Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce has insisted he is nobody's puppet as he prepares to sit down with the club's owner Mike Ashley to discuss potential January transfers.
Bruce revealed he is to meet Ashley in the coming days and with half of the January transfer window already passed, the strength or otherwise of the current squad is likely to form part of the conversation.
The Magpies boss replaced Rafael Benitez last summer after the Spaniard - who had a fractious relationship with Ashley - decided against signing a contract extension.
Bruce, however, has appeared to have a more cordial relationship with the club's owner. Something his critics have used against him.
Although Bruce insisted he isn't controlled by anyone.
He said: "I certainly don't want to be labelled that puppet thing again. I was aware of peoples' thoughts, but that will never be the case - I will never be anybody's that."
To take the club forward is all that I want to try to do. We want a bit of quality to take this club forward. If that takes a bit of time, it will have to take a bit of time.
He went on: "I want what's best for the club. If we can get somebody better, then I will try to ask that question."
Twelve months ago Ashley granted Benitez's wish to sign Paraguay international Miguel Almiron. At £21m the fee broke the club's transfer record.
That record was broken again in the subsequent summer transfer window when the club paid £40m for Brazilian striker Joelinton.
While Joelinton has struggled to adapt to English football thus far, Miguel Almiron's performances of late have come in for praise.
Bruce said Almiron was a "dream" to work with.
He said: "He's a class act, a manager's dream. He trains every day, comes in, smiles...he's a very, very good player. He's been terrific these past 12 months.
"Ok, he could have scored more goals, but that's the type of signing we need. If there's another similar kid out there, let's see if we can get them."