Newcastle head coach Steve Bruce has insisted even Jurgen Klopp needed time to get Premier League champions Liverpool playing how he wanted.
The 59-year-old has come in for further criticism in the last week after his side scraped a 1-1 league draw at Tottenham last Sunday courtesy of a controversial stoppage-time penalty before squeezing past League Two side Newport into the Carabao Cup quarter-finals in midweek.
Bruce’s men have lost only one of the six games they have played so far this season ahead of Saturday’s home clash with Burnley, although his attempt to introduce a more attacking style has been met with only limited success.
He said: “We all need time. It took a great manager like Jurgen a few years to get what you need. Every manager needs time, of course, because nowadays, you can’t just change it overnight.
“With transfer windows and especially now with what’s gone on in the world, it’s very, very difficult.
“Look, it’s still a work in progress – I know that sounds easy for me to say, but that’s what it is – and we are in the middle of change because I’m trying to change us from a team that plays with a back five and sitting deep into a more forward-thinking back four and playing from there.”
Newcastle have managed only three shots on target in the league in as many games and, although all three have resulted in goals, that is a statistic upon which Bruce, who hopes to have Allan Saint-Maximin back from an ankle injury to face the Clarets, knows they must improve.
He said: “I understand when you don’t play well or you don’t win, then of course there’s going to be criticism.
“But sometimes you ask for it to be a bit more balanced than it is. You accept that you’re going to be criticised, of course, that’s the nature of the job, especially these days. Whether you’re the Newcastle manager or the Rochdale manager, that’s the way it is.”
Bruce’s comments came hours after Evangeline Shen, one of the co-founders of the Singaporean-backed Bellagraph Nova Group which tabled a £280million offer for Newcastle earlier this year, claimed its interest is ongoing.
Ms Shen told the BBC: “We are always in contact and we are still very aggressive on trying to close the deal. I can tell you our team just met Mike Ashley’s representative last week on the process in Paris again.”
Sources on Tyneside have insisted the club is not for sale at that price – Ashley had agreed a £340m deal with Amanda Staveley’s consortium which had been whittled down to £305m by the time the plug was pulled – and that any recent contact from BNG has gone no further than his legal representatives.
Meanwhile, Newcastle have confirmed that midfielder Matt Ritchie will be sidelined for around two months after undergoing surgery on his shoulder injury on Friday.
A statement on the club’s official website read: “Newcastle United’s Matt Ritchie has undergone a successful operation on the injury he suffered in the second half of last weekend’s draw at Tottenham Hotspur.
“The 31-year-old had surgery on his acromioclavicular joint (AC joint) in London on Friday.
“Following the operation, the player is now likely to be sidelined for around two months.”
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