Steve Bruce has given a brutally honest press conference following 48 hours of major fan unrest and mass calls for him to be sacked, saying he takes full responsibility for our embarrassing 1-0 defeat to Sheffield United.
He accepts he got the team selection wrong, but does claim that some of the dislike towards him on Tyneside has been “personal” ever since he took the job.
Here is what he’s had to say, starting with his honest assessment of Monday night’s catastrophe at Bramall Lane:
“In hindsight, I picked the wrong team on Tuesday, so I have to come in front of you and accept that.
“I have to be responsible for that and that’s what I’ll do.
“I understand and accept the criticism. “if I was a fan I would feel the same.
“We have thrown in a hand grenade too many times. We were absolutely hopeless on Tuesday but the gloves are off now.
“Have I lost the dressing room? I’m the wrong person to ask of that, but I see nothing wrong with them against Arsenal, Liverpool and Leicester.
“But the hand grenade has been thrown in when we’re expected to win has happened too many times on my watch.”
Bruce also responded to the growing calls among our fanbase for his head, with the gaffer believing some of the abuse has been personal since the start.
“Look, when I took the job, from day one, it’s been personal as far as I’m concerned. There are certain people out there who don’t think I should be in the job to start with so all I can do is accept it, try not to be too down with it because I know how quickly it changes”
“I’ve made a career of never giving in, so I won’t. I’ll keep trying my utmost to make us better.’
“I have to accept what’s coming my way. I don’t think all of it is fair but I can understand it because if I was a supporter the other day, I’d look at it and go: ‘You know what it is? I agree. Simply not good enough.’
“You can’t take it personally. ‘Under pressure’ is often used by you guys. It is part & parcel of what you have to handle & how you handle it.
“I always think you show respect & don’t get too down with it. I can roll up my sleeves & get stuck into it.”
“The performance the other night was not acceptable to any of us. If I was a supporter, I’d be saying ‘what the hell is going on?’ I can understand the frustration and anger of supporters. I picked the team – it’s my responsibility, totally.”
While these answers are as good as we could have hoped for, it doesn’t hide the fact that the Sheffield United game badly exposed his capabilities as a manager.
Everything we should have done to set up against the top flight’s rock bottom side we seemed to do the opposite. There are managers in the Northern League who could have made us more productive than what we saw on Monday.
It seems as though he won’t be under any pressure until we slide into that bottom three. With a tricky run of games ahead we could be in there sooner than we think.