Steve Bruce needs to read the room as Newcastle United fans deserve answers

"Do you think I really have to answer that to you?”

Sunday, 12th September 2021, 12:00 pm

That was Steve Bruce’s response to an entirely reasonable question after Newcastle United’s defeat at Old Trafford yesterday.

Bruce – whose side were beaten 4-1 by Manchester United – was asked about his decision to take a short holiday last week.

However. the local newspaper journalist who asked the question didn’t get an answer.

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Instead, he got a rant from Bruce, who had again heard fans call for him to go during the Premier League game.

Bruce said: “That's what the fans are asking, are they? We have trained all week, and we were in every day. The preparation was meticulous, let me tell you.

"What was I supposed to do? We had six of them away. The preparation was fine. You could see the game plan was.

"To have to answer questions like that ... is typical to the question I would get off you – and your newspaper. That's why they are the way they are, the way you are and your negativity, constantly, and your newspaper."

Newcastle United fans at Old Trafford.

It was an answer unbecoming of a Premier League manager, as fans are quite capable of making their own minds up.

Supporters had been asking if it was right that the club’s head coach had left the country given the need for work to be done on the training ground after a winless start to the season. It was left to assistant Graeme Jones – who watched the first half from the Old Trafford press box – to supervise training.

Fans were quick to point out that none of the players who had been away on international duty started at Old Trafford, where Newcastle counter-attacked well for 45 minutes.

Bruce has faced less questions than any of his predecessors due to Covid-19 – he hasn’t sat in a room with journalists before or after a game since March last year – yet the access for written journalists was cut further in January.

Speaking at the time, Bruce said: “For me, I’ve got no problem with criticism. It’s the constant criticism of the club, and when it comes to ridicule, then I think there should be a little bit more respect.

"I give up my time, and I give them respect to speak to them. Yes, they can be pretty damning. We all accept that, but have a little bit of respect.”

Bruce does seem to have a problem with criticism, which is something every Premier League manager has to contend with over the course of a season.

Written reporters no longer have a separate section. Pre-Covid, Bruce would speak to newspaper journalists at length once TV and radio reporters had asked their questions.

Respect, of course, goes both ways, and relations between the club and the media aren’t in a good place. Bruce can’t lash out at owner Mike Ashley over a lack of transfer funds – or criticise the club’s fans – but he can take a swing at journalists.

We all know a lack of investment, ambition and direction under Ashley is the biggest issue at the club, but fans demand scrutiny of the day-to-day decisions made by Bruce.

And they expect, and deserve, answers from Bruce.

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