Steve Bruce draws on all his experience for Newcastle relegation battle

Damian Spellman, PA
·3-min read

Beleaguered Newcastle boss Steve Bruce will rely on experience as he attempts to guide the club to Premier League safety in the face of a concerted backlash.

At the end of a week during which 95 per cent of respondents to a local newspaper poll urged him to leave, the 60-year-old will preside over a home clash with Tottenham on Sunday knowing anything short of victory could leave the Magpies in even deeper trouble.

Newcastle have won only two of their last 20 games in all competitions and sit uncomfortably just two points above the relegation zone with nine games to play after a dreadful 3-0 defeat at Brighton last time out.

Asked where he had sought support since, Bruce said: “You rely on your family, of course, your staff, who work with you tirelessly to try and put it right, and also you draw on the experience.

“If you do 980-odd games or whatever, there’s a fair amount of experience there – in some people’s eyes, you wouldn’t have thought I’d done half a dozen – so you draw on that experience.

“Look, there’s no doubt it’s been difficult, but let’s move forward, let’s get ready. We took nine points from our last eight or nine games, which is nothing mouth-watering, but usually that’s enough to keep you in the division, a point a game, usually.

“Yes, it hasn’t been anywhere good enough, but we’ve given ourselves a decent platform. Now, with the next eight or nine games, it’s about how many points can we accumulate to make sure we stay in this division.”

Owner Mike Ashley made it known in the immediate aftermath of the debacle at the Amex Stadium that he would be sticking with his head coach despite mounting fury among the fanbase, but has made no further intervention.

Bruce said: “He sent his support to rally the troops and to get behind everybody. But, as I’ve said from day one, nothing’s changed.”

The international break gave Bruce, his staff and his players – at least those of them not on international duty – an opportunity to regroup ahead of a testing run-in and perhaps more importantly, handed key trio Callum Wilson, Allan Saint-Maximin and Miguel Almiron time to regain fitness after injury.

Almiron made a muted return from a knee problem at Brighton and Saint-Maximin could be back this weekend after a groin strain which has sidelined him for the last three games.

Leading scorer Wilson, however, may have to wait a little longer as he works his way back from the hamstring tear which has kept him out since February 6.

Asked if the Frenchman could be involved against Spurs, Bruce said: “He could be, yes. We’ve still got two days to train, today and tomorrow, but he came through a big training session 48 hours ago, so we hope.

“He’s a bit more advanced than Callum is, so we hope he can take some part.”