Steve Bruce: My family think I’m sick for refusing to walk away amid criticism

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Steve Bruce has admitted his family think he is “sick” for refusing to walk away from the task of dragging Newcastle out of the Premier League doldrums.

The 60-year-old was thrust into the midst of a storm on Tyneside when he was controversially appointed as Rafael Benitez’s replacement in July 2019, and has seen his doubters only increase in volume despite the Magpies successfully negotiating two battles against relegation.

A summer transfer window during which £25million midfielder Joe Willock was the only acquisition, much to Bruce’s disappointment, and a winless start to the new campaign have simply increased the pressure.

However, asked about his situation as he prepared his team for Friday night’s league clash with Leeds, a defiant Bruce said: “My family think I’m a bit sick because I never really think about those things when you’re up against it.

“Look, it’s a challenge at the minute. I’ve said now since I walked through the door two years ago, I’m not going to be everybody’s cup of tea, but I will, with my experience, hope that I can keep the club just ticking along and make sure that the club stays where it is and we maintain our Premier League status.

“I know for a lot of people – and there’s the frustration – we should be better than that. That’s where we are at the moment and we have been for a while, and that’s everybody’s frustration.

“I want Newcastle to be at the top of the league, so that frustration is there. But I don’t think about, ‘Oh, the noise is too bad, walk away, Steve’. That’s not in my nature when it gets tough.”

Asked if he would walk away if his presence started to affect the team, Bruce added: “Well, then you start looking at yourself, of course.

“But knowing the way I am, it’s not in my nature to walk away from something when we’re in a fight. ‘Oh, it’s too difficult so I’m going to walk away’, that doesn’t really register with me.”

Much of the supporters’ frustration is aimed at owner Mike Ashley, whose efforts to sell Newcastle to a Saudi Arabian-backed consortium have become ensnared in a legal battle which shows few signs of being resolved in the near future, and his unwillingness to sanction further major spending.

As the public face of the business, Bruce tends to bear the brunt of that anger – former Magpies striker Alan Shearer and Match of the Day pundit described the club as “hollow” and “empty” – although he shares some of the same concerns.

He said: “I’m the same. Do you not think I want better players? Do you not think I want a better squad to choose from and the ability to go out and compete at the top end of the transfer market?

“It’s not possible, so, I have to accept it and get on with my job as best as I can.”

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