Ashley backs Bruce: Beleaguered Newcastle boss will NOT be sacked despite disastrous defeat by Brighton continuing their limp slide towards the drop and with fans in uproar against both manager and hated owner
- Newcastle fell to a dismal loss at Brighton which left them above the drop zone
- Manager Steve Bruce is understood to still retain the support of the club’s board
- Bruce has come under fresh calls to leave but Bruce has Mike Ashley’s backing
- The struggling club are lying in 17th and just two points outside the bottom three
Newcastle manager Steve Bruce retains the support of the club’s owner Mike Ashley, it is understood.
The Magpies’ 3-0 loss to Brighton on Saturday left the Tyneside outfit lying 17th in the Premier League, two points above the relegation zone.
After the match a supporter group called for an imminent change of manager, but it is understood that, as things stand, Bruce has Ashley’s backing.
Newcastle boss Steve Bruce retains the support of Mike Ashley despite their relegation woes
The club’s fanbase have largely turned against the under-fire Bruce – with furious criticism directed at a series of uninspired showings this season.
The chastening setback on the south coast led to protests outside St James’ Park with banners calling for the 60-year-old’s removal for the third time this term.
Newcastle are currently teetering just above 18th-placed Fulham, albeit with a game in hand.
Owner Ashley chose to stick with Bruce with Newcastle just two points above the drop zone
Bruce has been bullish about his chances of keeping the club in the top-flight and insisted he has no plans to step down despite the heated backlash facing him.
A dreadful run of two wins in their last 20 games in all competitions has culminated in fractures breaking out at the club both on and off the field, however.
As reported exclusively by Sportsmail this month, Bruce and winger Matt Ritchie were embroiled in a furious training ground showdown.
Bruce is understood to have physically barged into the Scotland international after he called him a ‘coward’.
The 3-0 defeat by Brighton has added to Bruce’s woes and led to more fury from supporters
Sportsmail reported that Bruce and Matt Ritchie (R) were embroiled in a showdown in training
The explosive incident underlined the fact that several Newcastle players no longer trust the head coach – with tensions boiling over during the club’s crucial run-in.
A growing feeling of resentment towards former Aston Villa and Hull City boss Bruce has emerged within the dressing room after team-mates sided with Ritchie.
Former Bournemouth dangerman Ritchie refused to be put up for an interview by Newcastle after the bust-up with Bruce, Sportsmail also revealed.
It is understood his club wanted him to speak to rights-holders and echo Bruce’s stance that all parties have since moved on from the incident.
Bruce has remained bullish about keeping Newcastle up and insisted he would not walk away
But there would be no united front presented after Ritchie, 31, said he did not want to do it.
He hasn’t featured after Bruce barged into him – but Ritchie apologised to the coach and his team-mates the day after the encounter.
Several players are thought to be keen for assistant boss Graeme Jones to take the reins until the end of the season.
There is also frustration felt from members of the squad that Bruce holds tendencies to pass the buck and rarely take responsibility.
Several Newcastle players are thought to be keen for Graeme Jones to temporarily take charge
The perilous situation away from the pitch doesn’t appear to have significantly weakened the position of the man at the helm, though.
It has been widely reported that Ashley, who is currently in Dubai on a business trip, has chosen to stick with Bruce. He expects the players to rally for a relegation fight.
The loss at Brighton plunged them further into trouble – and, post-match, Bruce admitted they were beaten by a ‘better team’.
‘It was a very difficult evening for us,’ he said.
Bruce quickly admitted his team were beaten by a Brighton side ‘better in every department’
‘We have to accept it and take the responsibility for it, because it was, at times, a little bit too easy for Brighton, but they were better in every department.
‘We’re aware that we’re without big players but we can’t make that an excuse for tonight. We were nowhere near the levels that are required, we didn’t get there at all.
‘Given the magnitude of the game, that’s what disappoints me.’