Ex-Newcastle United favourite hits back at Steve Bruce criticism - but reveals fears over Premier League rival
Former Newcastle United captain Kevin Nolan has leaped to Steve Bruce's defence following criticism surrounding the Magpies’ performances this season.
United, 12th in the league table, are seven points clear of the relegation zone and unbeaten in the same number of games as they edge towards the ‘magic’ 40 points total.
However, following Saturday’s 0-0 draw with bottom-of-the-table Norwich City at St James’s Park, it was suggested Bruce’s side are in a false league position.
But Nolan, who spent two-and-a-half years on Tyneside, believes United are where they should be - and is backing Bruce to comfortably keep Newcastle in the Premier League.
"No. I think they are probably where they should be,” said the 37-year-old, when asked if the Magpies are riding their luck this campaign.
"Steve has done well considering the sort of storm he went in there with at the beginning of the season. He understood what was needed.
“He tried to change it early on then realised with the squad of players he had were used to and has gone back to where Rafa (Benitez) was with it.
"When I look at Newcastle I am not worried. I watched them at the weekend and although it wasn't a great game they had a chance to win it with Almiron's header.”
Nolan, who shocked supporters last year by praising controversial owner Mike Ashley, left the North East in 2011 to join West Ham United.
And comparing Newcastle to former club, who Nolan admits fears for, the ex-midfielder added: "I always feel with Newcastle that wherever they go they can get a point or they can get a win.
"That's my problem with West Ham because I can't see where there next win is coming from. Newcastle are not easy to beat.
"They will have Andy [Carroll] back, Saint-Maximin will be fitter and Bentaleb and Danny Rose will get up to scratch.
"I back Newcastle to be OK this season."
Newcastle do not return to Premier League action until February 16 when they visit Arsenal before rounding off the month with matches against Crystal Palace and Burnley.