Steve Bruce happy to take the flak to protect Newcastle players

Steve Bruce has promised to ride out the tide of criticism heading Newcastle’s way as he attempts to protect his players.

However, he has hit back at some of the “lies” that have accompanied a difficult start to his reign at St James’ Park with former Magpie and radio pundit Michael Chopra firmly in his sights.

Defeats by Arsenal and promoted Norwich in the opening two games of the Premier League season have fuelled discontent which began when Bruce’s predecessor Rafael Benitez left the club in the summer.

The new head coach, who was unhappy with the way defender Paul Dummett’s comments over the mood of the players during the warm-up at Carrow Road have been interpreted, said: “Well listen, for the last four or five weeks, it’s been relentless, hasn’t it?

“But I’ve grown accustomed to it and if I can protect the players, then I will. Ultimately, it’s always my responsibility.

“I’m the one who sits here, I’m the one who talks to (the media), I’m the one who picks the team, I’m the one who sends them out to play, no formation, no tactics, wrong substitutions, the whole thing at the minute.

“We can’t even take a warm-up. Some of it is a bit laughable, but you just have to try to get through it and keep your dignity and make sure you are strong enough to see it through.”

Bruce, who is preparing his team for a difficult trip to Tottenham on Sunday, was particularly upset by Chopra’s claim to have spoken to current senior players who had told him some members of the squad do not know what their jobs are.

The 58-year-old said: “I’m just surprised that people pay any attention to him. Some of the stuff is just fabricated and lies. When it’s like that, you think, ‘Why is that making national headlines?’. It’s total rubbish.”

Bruce has had to come to terms quickly with the intensity of scrutiny on Tyneside with emotions running high after another turbulent summer.

He said: “After two games, there’s a so-called mini-crisis and all the rest of it. But look, I understand that, it’s the nature of the club – it always has been. There’s always a storm in Newcastle and at the minute, we’re in one.”