Steve Bruce reveals why Newcastle United's players didn't walk out together at Chelsea in response to Gary Neville's criticism

Steve Bruce has responded to Gary Neville’s criticism of his Newcastle United team at Stamford Bridge.

Friday, 19th February 2021, 12:30 pm

Neville was critical of what he felt as a lack of togetherness before Monday night’s 2-0 defeat to Chelsea.

Bruce's players didn’t walk on to the pitch in one group, and Sky Sports pundit Neville said: “Where are the rest of the team? Half of the team are walking out. Be together when you walk out onto the pitch.

"How many players have they got? Have they had someone sent off? You don't leave the dressing room until all of you are together.”

Bruce was asked about Neville’s comments – and a clip of his players walking out which was widely-circulated on social media – ahead of Sunday’s Premier League game against Manchester United at Old Trafford.

And Newcastle’s head coach said the delayed arrival of some players on to the pitch was due to that that they didn’t change in the normal away dressing room at Stamford Bridge due to Covid-19 protocols aimed at keeping players and staff separate.

Instead, the squad, led out by captain Jamaal Lascelles, were using a makeshift dressing room at a health club behind one of the stands.

"I saw that thrown at us about the tunnel,” said Bruce, who was a team-mate of Neville’s at Old Trafford.

Steve Bruce greets Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel.

“Let me tell you, it was very, very difficult when we're not even getting changed in the stadium. We had a two or three-minute walk, from where we got changed in a health club. So I don't really go with that.”

Chelsea won thanks to first-half goals from Olivier Giroud and Timo Werner.

And the result has left 17th-placed United just seven points above the relegation zone.

“We found it a struggle in the first half, basically with the way Chelsea played," said Bruce. Second half we were much better. I've seen signs over the last few weeks that we're ready for the challenge, and I'm quietly confident that we'll achieve it (survival).”

On Fulham, Bruce said: “Fulham have closed the gap a bit, but they're still struggling to win as well. They have only won one in 13 games. It's all to play for. From 13th downwards, you're looking over your shoulder.”

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