Sean Dyche backs Steve Bruce to ‘roll with the punches’ in face of criticism

Burnley boss Sean Dyche has backed Steve Bruce to “roll with the punches” ahead of attempting to heap more pressure on the under-fire Newcastle manager.

Bruce’s position at St James’ Park has come under intense scrutiny during a dismal run which has left his struggling side loitering above the Premier League relegation zone.

The Magpies sit four points behind the 15th-placed Clarets ahead of Sunday’s crunch clash at Turf Moor after going seven games without a win.

Dyche is a fan of Bruce personally and professionally and believes he is capable of handling the prolonged criticism.

“Steve Bruce is well rounded enough in his views on football. I don’t think there is such a thing as unfair in football management any more, everyone is fair game so you take whatever comes your way,” said Dyche.

“Society is changing. The way people treat you in society is changing all the time – not just football managers, generally.

“I think we just have to roll with the punches. Steve gets a few knocks along the way but he’s had a few in the past, I’m sure he can deal with that and will stay focused on the job in hand. I’ve had my fair share, every manager has.

“It’s unlikely you are not going to be a manager and not get a few knocks on the way.

“Steve Bruce is a very, very good manager in my opinion, a very, very good bloke off the pitch, a solid fella to know, so I have got a lot of respect for him.”

Newcastle have plummeted into trouble during a lengthy slump which has seen them register just two victories from 19 games dating back to December.

Burnley, meanwhile, are seeking to bounce back from surrendering a two-goal lead in last weekend’s 3-2 loss at Southampton.

Aside from the division’s top clubs, Dyche says all sides endure disappointing spells and warned that the struggling Magpies are far from being pushovers.

“Steve’s team have been up and down, like a lot of teams,” he said.

“It happens. It’s happened to us virtually every season, it happens to virtually everyone, other than the superpowers, who tend to win more games.

“More recently a team like Tottenham, look at the quality they have there, even they have spells that are awkward. Everton have spells that are awkward, pretty sizeable teams. Arsenal have spells that are awkward.

“My point is that we’ve still got to be ready to perform because Newcastle are in the Premier League, they are a good outfit, they’ve got a very good manager so we’ve got to make sure that we are on top of our performance.

“We can talk all we want about the opposition but the main focus is on us, I can assure you.”

Newcastle’s seven-match winless run has coincided with the absence of 10-goal top scorer Callum Wilson.

Wilson, who bagged a brace in Burnley’s 3-1 loss on Tyneside in October, is set to return from injury at Turf Moor.

Dyche is mindful of the dangers posed by the England international but insists there are plenty of other threats to contend with.

“He gives them a bit of pace up there, he’s a good player without doubt. He’s had his injuries, which is unfortunate,” said Dyche.

“Our players are well aware (of him). We’ve got a group who are certainly experienced in the Premier League. They play against some very good players across the pitch, it’s not just about one striker.

“We’ve got to make sure we look at the whole group, not just one player.”