The Sunday Post (Newcastle)
Bruce will rein in attacking style in order to ensure the Magpies’ survival
Steve Bruce will not adopt a gung-ho approach to the task of attempting to ease Newcastle to Premier League safety.
The Magpies, who have won just two of their last 19 top-flight games and none of the last seven, turned in a much more progressive display to secure a 2-2 draw with Tottenham last weekend, prompting former skipper Alan Shearer to suggest that a repeat of that attacking intent represents the way out of trouble.
However, as he prepared his side for today’s key trip to Burnley with leading scorer Callum Wilson back among the fold after injury, Bruce insisted he would continue in his mission to strike a balance between potency and solidity.
He said: “You have to have an attacking intent – I’m just going to use an example here of Norwich now, who are romping away with their attacking intent in the Championship.
“They started life in the Premier League and kept to those beliefs –‘That’s the way we’re going to play and that’s the way we’re going to go about it’ – and unfortunately you get relegated playing that way, so there’s a balance to everything, of course.
“I’ve said since I walked through the door I want to try to get at teams, I want to play on the front foot. It’s tough in the big league and who we’re playing against, so you have to get the balance right to get enough results to stay that way.
“Yes, I understand Alan’s quotes – and of course he’s a centre-forward, so he wants to attack, he’s not interested in defending. For me, it’s all about the balance, especially in the Premier League.”
Bruce was delighted with the display against Spurs, which secured a fourth draw in five games, but admitted it would count for little if his team did not build upon it at Turf Moor.
He said: “We’ve produced a performance last week which is arguably as good as we’ve played maybe all season considering the opposition we were playing against. We hope we can take it in – that’s what we’ve banged the drum on all week.
“We understand the severity of the situation because we’ve now been playing in it for weeks. So let’s focus on Burnley, the same type of performance, and if we play as well as we did last week, then I’ve got no complaints.”
Burnley boss Sean Dyche has backed Bruce to “roll with the punches” ahead of attempting to heap more pressure on the under-fire Magpies manager. The Magpies sit four points behind the
15th-placed Clarets ahead of today’s crunch clash at Turf Moor.
Dyche is a fan of Bruce personally and professionally and believes he is capable of handling the prolonged criticism.
“Steve Bruce is well rounded enough in his views on football. I don’t think there is such a thing as unfair in football management any more, everyone is fair game so you take whatever comes your way,” said Dyche.
“Society is changing. The way people treat you in society is changing all the time – not just football managers, generally.
“I think we just have to roll with the punches. Steve gets a few knocks along the way but he’s had a few in the past, I’m sure he can deal with that and will stay focused on the job in hand. I’ve had my fair share, every manager has.
“It’s unlikely you are not going to be a manager and not get a few knocks on the way. Steve Bruce is a very, very good manager in my opinion, a very, very good bloke off the pitch, a solid fella to know, so I have got a lot of respect for him.”
Newcastle have plummeted into trouble during a lengthy slump which has seen them register just two victories from 19 games dating back to December.
Burnley, meanwhile, are seeking to bounce back from surrendering a twogoal lead in last weekend’s 3-2 loss at Southampton.
Aside from the top clubs, Dyche says all sides endure disappointing spells and warned that the struggling Magpies are far from being pushovers.
“Steve’s team have been up and down, like a lot of teams,” he said.
“It happens. It’s happened to us virtually every season, it happens to virtually everyone, other than the superpowers, who tend to win more games.”