Danny Mills has defended Steve Bruce and called on Toon players to “step up” in our relegation dogfight – arguing that they are just as much to blame as the manager.
The former England international believes that constantly blaming Steve Bruce is wrong and that there comes a point where the players must ultimately take responsibility; claiming they are “constantly looking for excuses”.
Bruce has led us to just two wins out of his last 20 games, with calls for his head being fired at all angles by not just fans, but those in the media as well after our abysmal 3-0 defeat to Brighton.
Here is what Mills had to say to Football Insider:
“The players have got to step up first and foremost.
“It’s OK saying ‘The manager, the manager, the manager’ but the players need to go out and perform.
“They have to do their job, that’s what they’re in the team to do, that’s what is incredibly important.
“Don’t keep blaming the manager, constantly looking for excuses saying ‘oh yeah, this, oh yeah, that’. Go out there and do your job. Make sure you can do the best job possible.
“To a point, a manager has an influence but if you can’t get yourself up for one of the most important games of the season, you’ve got issues, major issues. You need to have a look at yourself.
“Did I need a manager to get myself up for certain games? No. Sometimes, maybe an extra five or 10 per cent but they were well below that.
“They need to have a good look at themselves first and foremost and say ‘Hang on a minute, this is not just down to the manager, we’ve made some poor choices.’”
If Newcastle go down this season, a huge chunk of responsibility for that must lie at Bruce’s door.
Even more so than Ashley, to an extent, with our owner actually backing him in the summer with proven Premier League signings; the main blemish on his record would be not sacking Bruce months ago.
But games like Sheffield Utd away, West Brom away and Brighton away are just a select few of games where Bruce set out to play for a draw and it backfired. The players take some responsibility, but would you be motivated to play for a manager who fails to inspire?
He has mismanaged us in matches that have led to us losing points and – for that reason – he must take the brunt of the blame.
Yes, we have players that have drastically underperformed this season, and they should clearly share a lot of the criticism, but there is no denying that poor management has cost us a lot more. After all, this is a group of players capable of so much more.
One thing I will lay into the players for is how they appear to have downed tools in recent weeks, with Ciaran Clark and Ryan Fraser giving alarming interviews over the international break about our lack of fight last time out.