Newcastle boss Steve Bruce defended amid sack pressure as Gary Neville slams Mike Ashley

Newcastle: Steve Bruce reacts to team's poor run of form

Newcastle United’s issues on the pitch stem from a “cultural problem” in the boardroom, not manager Steve Bruce, according to Gary Neville. The Magpies are winless in eight games across all competitions coming into tonight’s Premier League match against Arsenal, with pressure building on Bruce.

Many Newcastle fans have been highly critical of Bruce for what they perceive to be a negative style of football which fails to get the most out of the team’s best players.

Last week’s 1-0 defeat by bottom-of-the-table Sheffield United saw the club reach a nadir, with the Blades taking their first Premier League win of the season at Bramall Lane.

Bruce’s side sit 15th in the Premier League before tonight’s game, seven points above the relegation zone, with five wins and four draws from their 17 matches so far, but many fans remain unsatisfied.

The failed £300million takeover attempt by a Saudi Arabia-led consortium last summer has increased the apathy on Tyneside with Bruce, owner Mike Ashley and managing director Lee Charnley on the end of lots of criticism from fans.

Neville disagreed with fellow pundit Jamie Carragher’s assessment of the root of Newcastle’s problems on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football show ahead of the match against Arsenal.

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The Sky Sports pundit believes the manager in charge at Newcastle is not important when the club’s overall outlook is so unambitious.

“The unhappiness towards this manager is embedded just from their history, rather than who he is and the job he is doing,” Neville said.

“If I was a Newcastle fan, I’d be unhappy now, I’d be unhappy under Rafa Benitez, I’d be unhappy under Steve McClaren, I’d be unhappy under the previous three managers before that. It’s been appalling for the last 10 or 12 years.”

Former Manchester United defender Neville made the point that Bruce has matched previous manager Benitez’s points tally over his first season at the club.

Benitez managed 44 points and 45 points over his two seasons in charge from 2017 to 2019, while Bruce returned 44 points last year.

Neville continued: “What Rafa Benitez has is a fantastic PR company, people like Jamie [Carragher], and he had a wonderful rapport with the fans because he demonstrated loyalty by sticking with the club in the Championship and he gave them hope,” he added.

“But I thought the football was awful when I watched it under Rafa Benitez. It’s not a Steve Bruce problem and this is not a Steve Bruce defence piece.

“Newcastle have a cultural problem where the football expectation is attacking, enthralling, thrilling football for the fans who are passionate about the club and they’ve been served up dire tripe for the last 10 years.

“It’s nothing to do with the last four years. You can give them that type of football, but my point is – the ownership and executive at that club have not delivered that football to these fans for years and years.

“It’s been awful for years when I go up there, I get demoralised when I go to Newcastle now, I should be inspired.

“I don’t think it’s anything to do with those stats I’ve seen today because Steve Bruce’s points tally is very similar to Rafa Benitez’s.”

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