Steve Bruce feels the recent criticism levelled at his Newcastle side by fans is over the top – for a team whose chief aim is to survive in the Premier League.
Magpies manager Bruce and his players have come under fire after some bad results in the past fortnight, most notably their disappointing Carabao Cup quarter-final loss to Sky Bet Championship club Brentford last Tuesday.
In all competitions, Newcastle have now gone four games without a win after they were also beaten 2-0 at Manchester City in the Premier League on Boxing Day.
Bruce has called on supporters to be more realistic about their position.
Bruce said: “We had a bad week and some of the mass hysteria was, in my opinion, unjust and unfair. A lot of it was not right. I’m probably going to say that but it’s my opinion.
“All the fans are like we are, we have to accept where we are. It is as pretty straightforward as that.
“My remit is to make sure we stay and remain a Premier League outfit. That is what I will try to achieve. That is where we have been for the last three or four years.
“Of course, for Newcastle, in a lot of people’s eyes, that isn’t going to be enough but that is where we are at the moment. We have to accept it and keep, as I have said many times, trying to move it forward.”
Despite the result, Bruce felt Newcastle deserved credit for their performance on a wet and windy night at the Etihad Stadium.
Newcastle have been one of the clubs hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and they were without key pair Allan Saint-Maximin and Jamaal Lascelles due to the virus. In addition Jonjo Shelvey and Ryan Fraser were missing through injury and Fabian Schar and Federico Fernandez were returning after illness and fatigue.
City dominated possession but Newcastle remained in the game after Ilkay Gundogan’s 14th-minute opener until Ferran Torres added the hosts’ second on 55 minutes.
Bruce said: “There are plenty of positives to take out in terms of the attitude and application of the teams, which has been questioned over the last couple of weeks.
“When I see people like Fab Schar who has trained twice in five weeks because of the problems we have had, with Feddy alongside him, and they show the resilience they showed – we were beaten by a better team but the effort and the endeavour, work rate and attitude of the players was there for everybody to see.
“Yes, we weren’t good enough and we can improve. We gave away a poor goal at the wrong time but we made a fist of it and gave as good as we’ve got.
“That’s all you can ask when you come to a big team like Man City. You have to try to have a game plan and stay in the game, and see if we could cause them a few problems. For large parts it worked.”