Steve Bruce searching for answers at Newcastle United as fans question his position
Newcastle United yet haven’t turned a corner in terms of results.
The club, winless and with just three points from six games, is 17th in the Premier League – and fans fear that their team is facing another depressing battle against relegation.
There were more chants against Bruce – and owner Mike Ashley – during yesterday’s 1-1 draw against Watford at Vicarage Road, though the club’s travelling support saw their team create more than enough chances to win the game.
"The game should have been put out of sight,” said Steve Bruce.
Bruce – who has repeatedly insisted that he will not be forced out of the club – has taken encouragement from his team’s recent performances.
“You need to get a win to turn the corner, but I thought we played well against Leeds,” said Bruce. “I thought, for an hour, we played very well against Man U.
“There were large parts against Aston Villa. You need to get a win, though. That’s the only way you can turn a corner.
"But the performances themselves, and what we’re trying to do … I’ve enjoyed watching us, and I’ve enjoyed watching us again. It’s a shame we didn’t take the chances that came our way."
Those chances came thick and fast before the break at Vicarage Road, where Newcastle were dominant.
Bruce had switched to a back four for the game – the club’s head coach had been using a back five since April – and United, in particular, attacked time and again down the left, where Joelinton linked well with Matt Ritchie.
Allan Saint-Maximin, again playing through the middle, was a threat whenever he took the ball in the opposition half, and he set up Sean Longstaff for Newcastle’s goal, struck from more than 20 yards.
Watford, emboldened by Newcastle’s failure to take their chances, improved after the break, and they equalised in the 72nd minute, and before Bruce made his first change, through Ismaila Sarr, who was left unmarked at a needlessly-conceded corner.
Dwight Gayle was handed his first Premier League appearance of the season seven minutes from time. Gayle will have wondered why he hadn’t got on the pitch sooner given that the team had seemingly needed a natural finisher.
Jacob Murphy, Newcastle’s other substitute, had a chance to claim all three points in the wake of a disallowed goal at the other end after Saint-Maximin – who has played every minute of every league game so far this season – cleverly set him away, but the winger miscued his effort.
Saint-Maximin is one player injury-hit Bruce – who said in the summer that he had “adequate” cover for No.9 Callum Wilson – can ill-afford to lose.
Supporters loudly applauded the team at the final whistle, and the players reciprocated before leaving the field. The club’s fans had seen a committed performance from a committed group of players, but commitment along won’t keep the club in the Premier League.
Those same fans had also loudly chanted “we want Brucie out” during the game, and those calls won’t go away any time soon.
As Bruce, secure in his job for now, said after the game, the club needs results to turn the corner – and the wait goes on for a win.