How Steve Bruce tackled his latest Newcastle United press conference
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Bruce’s side were beaten 2-1 at St James’s Park last night.
And the loss means the club, 16th in the Premier League and seven points above the relegation zone, has now gone 11 games in all competitions without a win.
Bruce, unhappy with “disrespectful” and “personal” criticism, didn’t speak to written journalists ahead of the Leeds fixture.
However, Bruce fielded five further questions after the TV segment of his post-match press conference after a stronger second-half performance from his team, which was energised by the 64th-minute introduction of Allan Saint-Maximin.
Newcastle, trailing to a first-half strike from Raphinha, levelled through a Miguel Almiron strike, the club’s first goal in 455 minutes of football.
An unmarked Jack Harrison quickly levelled, and there was to be no second equaliser for the home side, despite the best efforts of Saint-Maximin, who returned to training this month after being laid low Covid-19 late last year.
“I’m just disappointed that we didn’t take advantage of the goal and go on to win the match,” said Bruce, who is the favourite to be the next Premier League manager to lose his job following this week’s dismissal of Frank Lampard by Chelsea.
Bruce felt that his team’s second-half performance was the best he’d seen for two months.
“I hope that gives them a bit of confidence, because when you’re in a tough run you need a performance, and, certainly in the second half, we’ve given our best performance for a couple of months,” said Newcastle’s head coach, who has been joined at the club by Graeme Jones.
Asked if the display had lifted him personally following a bruising few weeks, Bruce added: “No, because I know, playing the strongest XI, we’d be OK.
“We’ve been without our best players, and certainly we can’t afford to be, especially at the top end of the pitch in the Premier League. That’s where they come alive. I’m pleased for the players.
“They’ve produced a performance, something to build on.”
Bruce was unhappy with the defending for Raphinha’s 17th-minute goal. Newcastle gave the ball away in midfield, and Leeds cut through them.
“We gave a poor goal away, and that rocked everybody again,” said Bruce. “We needed to stay in it, and tweak a few things. The introduction of Allan, of course, gives everybody a lift, and I think that was pretty evident.”
Bruce was also asked about a second-half clash between Fabian Schar and Rodrigo, a clip of which was widely circulated on social media, which led to both players being booked.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t see that,” said Bruce. “I can’t comment on that.”
What Bruce – who will speak to the media on Friday ahead of Saturday’s game against Everton at Goodison Park – did see was a second-half improvement from his team.
Fans, however, last saw their team win on December 12.
And uncomfortable questions about the team’s form this season – and Bruce’s own future at the club – still need answering.