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Steve Bruce says he can handle criticism as he aims to get Magpies flying

Tottenham Hotspur v Newcastle United – Premier League – Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
(Image credit: Andrew Boyers)

Steve Bruce says he can take the criticism as he attempts to build a Newcastle team which plays attractive, winning football.

The 59-year-old has found himself in the firing line once again since Sunday’s 1-1 Premier League draw at Tottenham, in which Callum Wilson’s controversially-awarded stoppage-time penalty was the Magpies’ first shot on target a week after a dispiriting 3-0 home defeat by Brighton.

Bruce was far from a universally popular appointment as Rafael Benitez’s successor and while he guided the club to a 13th-place finish last season, he knows as he prepares for Wednesday night’s Carabao Cup fourth round trip to League Two Newport that his every move invites added scrutiny as a result.

He said: “What I understand now – and this is the most difficult part of all here – is that everything I do is analysed, if I make a substitution, how we play, formation, everything.

“I understand one thing: our performances against Brighton and against Tottenham were nowhere near what we are capable of.

“I accept I get criticism for that, but it’s the constant, ‘He doesn’t know what he is doing, why has he picked this team, this is the way forward, we should be playing like this’, blah blah blah. That’s the difficulty.

“If you play like we did against Spurs and particularly against Brighton at home, then you’re going to come in for criticism and you have to accept that.

“It’s a big club, with big expectations and the criticism falls upon you. I have to be big enough to accept it and we didn’t play well enough. The analysis of everything you do, that’s the difficulty.”

Newcastle shook off the Brighton loss by winning 7-0 at League Two Morecambe three days later and while Bruce may hope for an equally smooth passage to the quarter-finals at Rodney Parade, he knows that is unlikely.

He said: “No disrespect to Morecambe, but they (Newport) are a far better side. They’ve had joy in the cup, they’re doing well in the league. It’s a difficult place to go and play, as many people have found.”

A place in the last eight, albeit via a friendly series of draws, would provide a welcome boost on Tyneside, but that would not be enough for Geordie Bruce.

He said: “I don’t really look at that as an achievement. I think an achievement would be getting to a final and then ultimately if you win it, then maybe that’s an achievement.”