Steve Bruce can ill-afford any more injuries, but he badly needs a performance this afternoon – and some kind of result.
Bruce was asked about the criticism which came his way from supporters following last weekend’s 4-1 defeat to Manchester United at St James’s Park at his pre-match press conference.
“I’m under no illusion that if you’re manager, then the criticism flows,” said Bruce. “Sometimes, you think it’s a bit unjust, but it’s part and parcel of what we deal with. In the past, you’d discuss it in the pub. Now, everyone is a manager. I can’t stop it.”
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Bruce's players can stop it by putting in performances and getting results.
United’s head coach has been in the job for 15 months now, and some supporters still don’t believe his team has an identity. Bruce has attempted to go on the attack, but this ethos has left his team vulnerable defensively. He’s acknowledged that he needs to get the “balance” right.
The system has changed regularly, and his team selection has come in for scrutiny. Miguel Almiron, for example, has played just 129 minutes of Premier League football.
We know how Bruce wants his team to play. He wants to field a back four, use the pace he has out wide – and play one off the front. But can Newcastle play that way against the better teams in the Premier League? Time will tell.
Everyone may be a manager in the social media age, but only one man makes the decisions.