This was Steve Bruce's telling reaction to Newcastle United's FA Cup win

Newcastle United are just ninety minutes from Wembley. Just 90 minutes.

Wednesday, 4th March 2020, 12:00 pm
Updated Wednesday, 4th March 2020, 12:26 pm

The club’s fans were singing and chanting long after the final whistle at The Hawthorns last night.

There were songs about Wembley and Miguel Almiron, who scored two goals in a 3-2 FA Cup fifth-round win over West Bromwich Albion.

Yet Steve Bruce knew ahead of the fifth-round tie that those same supporters could well have turned on him had the night ended in defeat given the team’s poor Premier League form. The margins this season seem as fine as ever.

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The chants and songs at The Hawthorns were in honour of Almiron and his team-mates, and not Bruce. Acceptance may eventually come for Bruce, but, for now, the result has bought him more time at St James’s Park.

Still, Bruce is in a hurry. He’s impatient to get to the 40-point mark, and the team, which has only won one of its last 10 Premier League games, could make some progress before a quarter-final later this month.

This season could still go badly wrong. Relegation is unthinkable.

Yet it could also go very right. The club hasn’t been to Wembley in the FA Cup in 20 years, and last won the competition in 1955. Bruce, unwanted last summer following the departure of Rafa Benitez and still seemingly unloved by many fans, could yet make history at his boyhood club.

Steve Bruce.

United’s head coach has always said he will only change perceptions of him with results. And Bruce needs some league wins – and quick.

The signs were positive at The Hawthorns, where Newcastle were again set up in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Allan Saint-Maximin and Miguel Almiron wreaked havoc with their pace and movement. Joelinton also played well up front.

United had gone on the attack from the first whistle, thought a ragged last 15 minutes was a concern. Bruce said: “It wouldn’t be Newcastle without the drama, would it?”

Emboldened by the performance, and the result, Bruce hit back at one journalist after the match over what he labelled as a “nonsense” claim about his relationship with Saint-Maximin.

Yes, United are on the front foot – but, more importantly, can they stay there?