Steve Bruce has told reporters to ask Newcastle United players if they are behind him but the Magpies’ head coach believes he still retains their support. Newcastle have failed to win any of their last eight games in all competitions and the black-and-whites suffered an embarrassing defeat against bottom of the table Sheffield United earlier this week. The Magpies may have a cushion above the bottom three but much-improved performances will be required to get anything from games against Arsenal, Aston Villa, Leeds and Everton this month. Bruce said the ‘gloves were off’ after his side’s ‘absolutely s****’ display at Bramall Lane and the 60-year-old was asked if he still had the backing of the dressing room.
Steve Bruce said “Well, I saw them against Arsenal only a week or so ago and I watched them against Liverpool and against Leicester. You’ll have to ask them and do your rounds on them. I still believe, yes, but we can’t accept that performance the other night. That’s where we are and that’s why, unfortunately, the roof caves in because we can’t accept what we just witnessed the other night in a big game. In the first half, in particular, we were nowhere near what’s required. Look, I’m not getting down with it. I know how difficult it’s been to try and handle players or staff who had it, Some of them are absolutely goosed and that becomes the problem I’m faced with because it’s been a difficult thing to manage. All of a sudden now, the canteen is closing. All of a sudden, we might be thinking of our dressing rooms closing again and all of this where the protocols are very difficult to adhere to. You can’t have a team meeting, you can’t have a video analysis meeting. You can’t do this, you can’t do that. It becomes very difficult but the most difficult thing for me is we were stuck down a month ago and we’re still suffering. We’ve still got arguably our best player struggling with it and it’s been nearly seven or eight weeks. We’ve got people like Fede Fernandez, arguably the best pro we’ve got on our books, struggling with it and that’s the difficult thing that I don’t think people understand. Most of them are OK but some aren’t and then it becomes very difficult. The captain, for example, is another one. He couldn’t raise a leg against Arsenal after 45 minutes and was in a state so it’s been a difficult situation. That’s what I get down with because it’s not as straight forward as you get tested, you’re positive and you isolate for five days and you’re all right. Some aren’t.”
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