'Just not on' - Sky pundits react to 'poignant' admission from Newcastle boss Bruce

Sky Sports pundit Phil Babb has criticised Newcastle United for their current run of form, but has argued that the club’s board must do more to support under-fire manager Steve Bruce.

Saturday, 16th January 2021, 10:27 am
Steve Bruce. (Photo by Daniel Leal Olivas - Pool/Getty Images)

The 60-year-old came in for heavy criticism following his side’s mid-week defeat to bottom side Sheffield United – a result that left the Magpies 15th in the table and winless in their last eight matches.

Speaking in a press conference on Friday, Bruce admitted that he had gotten his team selection wrong for the match, and conceded that the Toon Army’s first-half display in particular was “absolutely hopeless”.

Reflecting on the result and Bruce’s subsequent press conference on Sky Sports’ Football Show, former Sunderland defender Babb commended the manager for his honest appraisal of the loss, but also suggested that things have to improve on Tyneside.

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He said: “Fair play to him for taking the responsibility.

"I think he did get a huge amount of criticism and playing a defensive side. It was almost as if he was saying, ‘We don’t want to get beaten by these’, and ultimately it ended up being just that.

"It didn’t help with Ryan Fraser getting sent off and then leaving Callum Wilson so isolated.

"Sheffield United, against them, looked so dominant. They made Newcastle look so inferior, and that's probably what the big concern is – the manner of the defeat. It’s eight games now without a win, being beat by Brentford as well – it’s just not on.”

The ex-Republic of Ireland international then went on to argue that Bruce needs more help from the powers that be at St. James’ Park to turn the Magpies around.

"There’s always going to be pressure”, he said.

"His title his head coach but he has to deal with everything there. He has to deal with the takeover, he has to answer all these questions, dealing with the Covid stuff.

"He needs help, 100%, from the board, and I don’t think he’s getting it.

"He’s not getting the support at the club that he needs.”

Earlier in the show, fellow pundit Brad Friedel had also hailed Bruce for his frank assessment, and expressed his hope that the Toon boss can turn things around in the north east.

He said: “That was a really honest, poignant interview.

"He openly states that he feels that he picked the wrong team. He openly states that he’ll take the criticism on.

"He played at the highest level, managed at the highest level, and when things do get a bit personal – I don’t know Steve that well on a personal level, but I think he can just brush it off his shoulder. I really do.

"I don't think it’s nice, but I also think he’s been in the game long enough.

"Hopefully for him and for the fans he can turn it around. He’s been in this position before.

"I don’t know if he has the resources to dig himself out of it in January with an influx of new players, but he’s been around.

"It was very honest and very to the point – he and the players need to do better.”