Steve Bruce signals big change at Newcastle United after taking 'gloves off'
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Bruce is under intense pressure from fans following Tuesday night’s abject 1-0 defeat to previously winless Sheffield United, though he retains the support of owner Mike Ashley.
United’s head coach – who has chopped and changed his formation since joining the club – has pledged to change things again at the Emirates Stadium after labelling his team’s performance at Bramall Lane as “absolutely hopeless”.
“We’re certainly comfortable with the central defenders we’ve got because week in week out they’re arguably our most consistent players,” said Bruce, who has fielded a back five in recent weeks.
“It’s something I’ve toyed with since I’ve been at the club, and, for me, to change is sometimes difficult for them. I’ve let them be comfortable. But the gloves are off now. I’m going to do it my way.
“I’m going to do it the way I see fit, and see where we are. OK, we’ve played a certain way to try to make sure we get the results that we need.
“But I’ve said from day one the way I wanted to play, and haven’t done it enough. But like I say, the gloves are off now, so we will do it my way.”
Bruce – who was appointed as Rafa Benitez’s managerial successor 18 months ago – has had to accept all the criticism that has come his way following the defeat at Bramall Lane.
“I’m fair game,” said Bruce. “We were absolutely hopeless the other night. Absolute *****, we were. I have to accept it, and that’s the way it is. If you’re Newcastle manager, or any manager in the Premier League, you can’t accept what the other night was.
“Unfortunately, it’s happened a little bit too often, so all of the good work in the four games leading up to it – yes, we didn’t get the results, but I thought the way the team played, we did OK.
“But the other night was completely and utterly hopeless. and I have to accept whatever is coming my way.”
Bruce is understood to be safe in his job – for now – though he insists he hasn’t sought any reassurances from managing director Lee Charnley.
"I wouldn't expect to be reassured after the other night,” said the 60-year-old. “I wouldn't expect to be.
"I was like everyone else, and I have to take the responsibility. I pick the team and I take sole responsibility for it – and accept it. It was nowhere near good enough.
"I didn't want reassurances. I understand now it was nowhere near good enough, so let's get ready for the next challenge ahead. That's all I can do.”
Newcastle are 15th in the Premier League – and seven points above the relegation zone ahead of the Arsenal game.