Steve Bruce has insisted that he is “not at all” anxious ahead of the return of 10,000 fans to St James’ Park tomorrow night, believing supporters will come to cheer on their team – not boo him.
The NUFC boss has also accepted for the first time that our dismal defeat at Sheffield United back in January was his fault, saying he selected the wrong team and takes responsibility for our ‘darkest moment’ of the season as a result.
Elsewhere, Bruce has remained coy on our attempts to sign Joe Willock this summer, confirming talks will take place at the end of the season but remaining unsure if Arsenal will be willing to part with the in-form 21-year-old.
Here’s what he’s had to say on all of the above in today’s press conference…
Bruce when asked if he was ‘anxious’ about the reception he’ll receive from 10,000 fans at St James’ Park:
“No, not at all.
“I am delighted.
“I think fans will be coming to cheer on their team. They’ll have enjoyed watching them of late. It’s great to see them back. I’m sure they’ll give the team a wonderful reception.
“Let them come in, go to the pub and have a few beers and support their team.
“I think we’ll start feeling it when we arrive tomorrow and see supporters.
“We had a flavour of it with the cup final and the play-offs and all of a sudden it’s a wonderful spectacle.
“We’ve all said it, if we ever need reminding what we play football for and what we’re in it for is supporters.
“I’m sure people will go to the pub before and after and discuss all the things that make this great game what it is.
“Whatever type of reception I get, I am delighted, it’s been a bloody long time since we have seen the supporters.“
Bruce on that defeat to Sheffield United in January:
“It was one of the dark moments of the season and I certainly picked the wrong team, so I have to take responsibility for it.
“I certainly picked wrong team, which doesn’t help. It was one of the awful displays of the season.
“If we slacken off we know they will punish us. Supporters are back in the stadium so we want to keep that attitude right.
“We didn’t play well enough. If we don’t show them huge respect, it’ll be difficult for us as they’re a decent side.”
Bruce on Joe Willock’s future:
“He’s an Arsenal player. We have to respect that. But we’ll be having conversations with them.
“I think every club will be digesting the season (before transfers happen).
“We’ll have dialogue and see where it takes us.
“You can see him enjoying it and enjoying scoring. To take the ball off Joelinton for the penalty shows the state of mind – he wants to score.
“He’s given us another dimension from midfield.
“The distance him and Almirón cover from midfield is great to watch.”