'I can’t think of anybody who could do better' - Ex-Newcastle United favourites defend Steve Bruce
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The 60-year-old remains largely unpopular with sections of the Magpies fanbase, despite steering the club to Premier League safety last week.
The pressure on Bruce began to build at the turn of the year when just two wins in 21 matches were recorded.
United were just two points outside the bottom three when they lost 3-0 at Brighton in March but an unbeaten August – including wins against Burnley and West Ham – represented a huge upturn in form.
Further draws versus Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool contributed to Bruce’s Premier League manager of the month award before securing top-flight via a 4-2 victory at FA Cup winners Leicester City.
Despite what many United fans view as an underwhelming season, Howey is in favour of Bruce remaining as head coach – reiterating that the problem lies at Mike Ashley’s door.
He told This Is Futbol: “For me, at the moment, being manager at Newcastle United is like a poisoned chalice.
"You could get a top manager in but if you’re not giving them the funds to buy the right players, then you are always going to struggle.
“I can’t think of anybody who could do better because top managers would want a vast amount of money to spend, and I don’t think they would get it from the owner.”
Meanwhile, Lee has credited Bruce for the recent turnaround in results.
Newcastle have lost just two of their previous seven fixtures – Arsenal and Manchester City at home – and scored 15 goals in the process.
Lee added: “It (the criticism) is disrespectful to Steve because he is under massive pressure and he’s doing really well at Newcastle.
“He is getting attacked from all sides but he’s got a few great results recently which is good and I’m delighted for him.”
St James’s Park will host 10,000 fans for the visit of Sheffield United on Wednesday – the first time spectators have been in the stadium since February 2020.