Newcastle's Bruce accepts criticism for poor form but vows to fight on

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Premier League - Sheffield United v Newcastle United- Bramall Lane, Sheffield, Britain - January 12, 2021 Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce Pool via REUTERS/Oli Scarff

(Reuters) - Embattled Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce took responsibility for the Premier League club's poor run of form and said on Friday that he had no choice but to accept the criticism that has come his way in recent weeks.

Newcastle are 15th in the standings after a winless run of six games and Bruce has come under increasing pressure after bottom side Sheffield United beat them to claim their first victory of the season earlier this week.

"The one thing I can't deny was (the performance against) Sheffield United was nowhere near the level of performance that is required in the Premier League," Bruce told reporters ahead of Monday's trip to Arsenal.

"I picked the team and I have to take the responsibility for it. I have to accept the criticism... In hindsight, I picked the wrong team. I have to accept that and it wasn't anywhere near good enough.

"There are certain people out there who think I shouldn't be in the job to begin with. I know it can change quickly, I've made a career of never giving in and I won't."

Bruce also conceded that Newcastle were in a relegation fight with seven points separating them and 18th-placed Fulham, who have a game in hand.

"We've got a scrap on our hands yes, of course, because we've had a bad run," he added. "If you're in the bottom half the first thing you think about is surviving and getting those points. We have to stay as bright as we can."

Newcastle were also dumped out of the League Cup and the FA Cup and when asked if he had the backing of his players, Bruce said: "I'm the wrong one to ask about that.

"It's that hand grenade we throw in too often that disappoints me. We don't handle expecting to win very well at all."

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)

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