Steve Bruce has insisted he will not walk away from Newcastle’s fight for Premier League survival after another tumultuous week on Tyneside.
The Magpies head for West Brom, one of the only three clubs currently below them in the table, on Sunday without injured star men Callum Wilson, Allan Saint-Maximin and Miguel Almiron and with the head coach dealing with the fall-out from a furious training ground dispute with midfielder Matt Ritchie.
However, asked if he ever felt like calling it a day, Bruce replied: “Do I feel like walking away? Definitely not. Not at all.
“More than ever, I’m 100 per cent committed to trying to get us out of the trouble we’re in. I think the players are too. I’ve got 100 per cent faith in them, and I think that remains vital to us.
“So, no, just because things get tough… I always knew things would be tough. Maybe it’s tougher than I thought, but I always knew it was going to be tough.
“It’s a tough gig this one, there’s no disputing that. But I’ll try my best, like I always do, to make sure that we’re OK.”
A run of just two wins in 17 games, 15 of them in the league, have seen Newcastle’s season lurch into a downward spiral and they sit uncomfortably just three points above the relegation zone, although boosted in the last 24 hours by defeats for both the Baggies and Fulham.
However, planning for a potentially crucial trip to the Hawthorns has been disrupted by the groin and knee injuries respectively suffered by Saint-Maximin and Almiron during last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Wolves, and a heated exchange with Ritchie which made headlines this week.
Asked about the incident, which came after Bruce claimed in his post-match press conference that the substitute had not passed on key instructions seconds before Wolves’ equaliser, the head coach said: “There’s no denying that I’ve had a row with Matt Ritchie, but let me tell you that happens up and down training grounds every other week.
“You’re dealing with 25 men, emotions run high, fiercely competitive – these things happen unfortunately, and unfortunately for us with Newcastle, of course it gets blown to all sort of proportions.
“Matty apologised, as far as we’re concerned and me personally, it’s over.”
Bruce, who expressed his displeasure at a series of leaks from the club’s training ground and vowed to find the “culprit”, also hit back at claims that he himself was the source of a story that goalkeeper Karl Darlow would be dropped for the Wolves game.
He said: “If I thought I would do that, I would resign tomorrow. It’s simply not true. It’s unfair on Karl and arguably over the last 18 months that’s been the most difficult decision I’ve had to make.”
Addressing the issue of stories leaking out of the camp, Bruce admitted the source had to be within the club.
He said: “It has to be, unfortunately it has to be, so that is the biggest disappointment to us all, and unfortunately it happens a bit too often. We’ll try our utmost to see who it is.”
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