Steve Bruce asked if he's lost the dressing room at Newcastle United – here's his response
Steve Bruce says he has not lost the dressing room at Newcastle United.
Bruce is under intense pressure ahead of tonight’s game against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium following a run of eight games without a win.
There was a backlash on Tyneside to last week’s defeat to previously-winless Sheffield United at Bramall Lane.
And fans are questioning whether Bruce has the players behind him at St James’s Park.
United’s head coach, however, pointed to the performance of the team in normal time against Arsenal earlier this month – and the goalless draw against Premier League champions Liverpool on December 30 – when asked if he had lost the dressing room.
"I've seen them against Arsenal a week ago, and I watched them against Liverpool and against Leicester, where we weren't good enough,” said Bruce. “So you'll have to ask them, and do your rounds on them.
“I still believe, yes, but we can't accept that performance the other night (at Bramall Lane). That's where we are. That's why the roof caves in, you now, because we can't accept what we've witnessed the other night.
“In a big, big game, we were totally and utterly, in the first half in particular, we were nowhere near what's required."
Callum Wilson, Newcastle’s eight-goal leading scorer, missed the FA Cup defeat to Arsenal.
However, the striker, signed last summer for £20million, returned against Sheffield United, and Bruce must get the balance right between defence and attack at the Emirates Stadium to give Wilson the chance of adding to his goal tally.
“I have talked about getting that balance right since I walked through the door,” said Bruce. “Look, we all have to have a certain pragmatic way in the bottom half.
“But I agree, we have to have more going the other way. And that is where we have to improve. The other night, we didn't do the basics well enough. Forget about tactics and formations. We didn’t do the basics well enough to win a match against Sheffield United, and that was disappointing.
“Yes, we have to improve going forward, and get better service and get that balance right, which is obviously the most difficult part.”