Newcastle United captain Jamaal Lascelles has given his unequivocal backing to head coach Steve Bruce, saying the squad really ‘respect’ him.
The former Sunderland boss has been under fire ever since he got the job last summer. Lascelles, however, believes much of the stick has been entirely unwarranted.
“He’s had to, kind of, get his philosophy across to the players over the course of the season,” he told Sky Sports. “I finally think it’s starting to click.
“He’s a very good, genuine man and it means a lot to him – you can tell it means the world to him – to have this job. I think he’s doing a fantastic job. The players really respect him, and hopefully we can just continue picking points up.”
There’s no doubt that Bruce is a nice guy, nobody’s been arguing that. The problem was always that he was replacing Rafael Benitez, and so his appointment stunk of a lack of ambition from Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley. And, while the football hasn’t been great, you’ve got to say that he’s doing a decent job at St James’ Park so far. The Magpies are 15th after 11 games, and have seven points from their last five matches. Players like Allan Saint-Maximin, Ciaran Clark and Jonjo Shelvey, after rough starts or lack of game time at the beginning of the campaign, are starting to round into form. Things aren’t perfect, but you have to give Bruce credit for coming in right at the end of pre season and managing to steady the ship on Tyneside. He needs to inject more goals and more creativity into his side, it’s true, but the early signs have been at least partially positive, which is more than most Newcastle fans were expecting at the start of the season.