Steve Bruce reveals his 'priority' at Newcastle United
Steve Bruce says he must prioritise Premier League survival at Newcastle United – but he won’t change his approach to the FA Cup.
Bruce’s side take on West Bromwich Albion tonight in a fifth-round tie at The Hawthorns.
The game, however, comes on the back of a run of one win in 10 league games which has left the misfiring team just five points above the relegation zone.
Bruce’s predecessors – who had squads ill-equipped to compete on more than one front – were forced to prioritise the league, and Bruce signalled a change to that approach after succeeding Rafa Benitez at St James’s Park last summer.
United’s head coach won’t field a weakened team, despite concerns over the team’s poor run in the league.
“I fully agree that we have to prioritise the league – 100%,” said Bruce, whose side will be backed by more than 5,000 fans at The Hawthorns.
“But what’s the problem with having a squad of players? We’ve got 20-odd players, so they can play in an FA Cup tie. Also, have we got somebody that precious to us? Somebody that precious to us that we can’t do without?”
The team which won the FA Cup three times in the 1950s is still revered on Tyneside, and those cup-winning exploits were still fresh in the memories of supporters as Bruce was raised on Wallsend.
All these years later, fans still dream of cup success, and United’s faltering and frustrating campaign could yet end in disaster – or triumph.
“That’s the beauty of Newcastle, and what we’ve always had to deal with it for years,” said Bruce. “Why’s it going to change? If you’d said to me you’d have 32 points with 10 (games) go, and in the fifth-round, I think we’d have taken it.
“We’ve had a difficult time, and our Achilles hell is not scoring enough. We’ve had a little change, so let’s see where it can take us.
“It’s a big week coming up. I hope we can give everybody a lift. We’ve got 5,000 going – unbelievable. I think they’re enjoying it.
“The season is still all to play for.”