Steve Bruce has launched a passionate defence of his fledgling reign at Newcastle amid smouldering discontent on Tyneside.
Two games into his tenure, the 58-year-old has seen anger over Rafael Benitez’s departure and misgivings over his appointment fester after back-to-back defeats to Arsenal and Norwich, with last Saturday’s 3-1 reverse at Carrow Road setting alarm bells ringing.
Bruce was candid in his admission afterwards that the performance at Norwich was simply not good enough, but has been taken aback by the criticism which has followed.
He said: “I love the fight of it. When it gets unfair, that’s where I get disappointed. I could have given it a load of bulls**t last Saturday, all the flannel. I say it the way it is, because I was totally disappointed with the performance.
“I’ll never give up the fight for it, that’s in me. No-one else in the country would be under the spotlight that I feel as if I’m under at the minute.
“It is what it is, I knew it, I have to accept it. I could have said no. I’m prepared to roll up my sleeves and I hope the team respond the right way. I’m sure they will do.
“I’ve been in the game a long time and have been beaten badly lots. I hope my record stands up. With teams I’ve managed in the Premier League, smaller clubs than this, I’ve always managed to do okay. I hope I can do the same here.”
Newcastle’s performance last weekend was a source of concern to Bruce’s friend and former Magpies skipper Alan Shearer, but it was comments from ex-Newcastle striker and radio pundit Michael Chopra claiming sources in the dressing room had told him the players do not know what their jobs are which proved particularly galling.
Bruce said: “Who is he? Absolute lies, and we all know why he’s on the radio. Newcastle legend who played 20 times for the club… Jesus. If it’s Alan Shearer, bring it on.”
Newcastle will attempt to open their account at the third time of asking at Tottenham on Sunday with their head coach confident the players have got his back, and insisting he has no regrets about taking a job he knew would be intensely difficult.
He said: “Am I regretting this job? Absolutely no chance.”