Thursday 17 October 2019

Magpies hang heads in shame after 'f*****g embarrassing' collapse

Newcastle United head coach Steve Bruce. Photo: Lindsey Parnaby / AFP / Getty
Newcastle United head coach Steve Bruce. Photo: Lindsey Parnaby / AFP / Getty

Luke Edwards

Newcastle United players were treated to a brutal dressing-room appraisal of their 'embarrassing' performance at Leicester City on Sunday, with manager Steve Bruce questioning their desire and ability to play for the club.

Bruce has been a largely supportive figure for the squad during his short reign, but his patience snapped after the humiliating 5-0 defeat, which left them second from bottom.

In an expletive-ridden outburst minutes after the final whistle, Bruce questioned the attitude of his players and accused some of them of trying to hide behind him since he was appointed as Rafa Benitez's replacement, because they know he will take all the flak for bad results.

According to one witness inside the dressing room at the King Power Stadium, the extent of Bruce's anger left the entire team hanging their heads in shame and, tellingly, there was not a murmur of discontent. "They just stared at the floor," a source said.

Although results and performances have been poor, Bruce remains popular and there is a feeling among the players that they have let him down. However, they know they need to produce a positive reaction on the pitch against Manchester United on Sunday and few supporters are in the mood to listen to excuses.

Bruce also told his players on Sunday they would not be needed for training yesterday as he could not promise he would not explode a second time if he saw them so soon after the debacle and he needed time to reflect on how bad things had become so quickly.

Instead, he will wait to see what reaction he gets from the players after the dust has settled today. A player meeting, without the manager, is planned for later this week, which will be led by captain Jamaal Lascelles, who was equally forthright in criticism of his team-mates in the dressing room.

Bruce is aware that the ultimate responsibility for Newcastle's results is his and that his job will be on the line if results do not improve.

He has won just one of his seven Premier League games in charge and his team have produced two abysmal performances in a row, having also struggled at home during a goal-less draw with Brighton in which they had just 30 per cent of possession.

For now, the players seem to be with him as striker Andy Carroll and midfielder Sean Longstaff, Bruce's fellow Geordies, also publicly criticised their team-mates.

"It was absolutely shocking," said Carroll. "We can't play like that again. We gave up, completely gave up. It was absolutely terrible. What happened was a disgrace.

"Second half we didn't come out at all. When the second goal went in, our heads went down and we gave up, basically. You saw all the heads went down, and even three, four… they were sloppy. They were all mistakes. It's not good enough.

"There have been some strong words from the manager and rightly so. He was disappointed, and so he should be. So should we be. We should hang our heads in shame. We were not like that in training, so we shouldn't be like that on a weekend.

"We've a good team and manager. We know what we need to do."

Those sentiments were echoed by Longstaff.

"It's f-----g embarrassing," Longstaff added. "Sorry for swearing, but it is. There's nothing really much else to say. "The away fans travelled again, but we should never put them in the position where they're in a stadium cheering just for the sake of it." (© The Daily Telegraph, London)

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