Warren Barton has delivered a damning verdict on Steve Bruce’s Newcastle United reign.
In an exclusire interview with talkSPORT, the former Magpies defender described the current side as ‘boring and ‘demoralising’ to watch and criticised Bruce for his lack of passion.
Steve Bruce’s Newcastle are stuck in a rut of eight games without victoryGetty Images – Getty
Billy Sharp was the hero for the Blades as Sheffield United won for the first time this Premier League seasonAFP
Newcastle became the first team to lose to rock-bottom Sheffield United in the Premier League this season on Tuesday night, with Bruce’s side also ending the game with ten men as they lost 1-0 at Bramall Lane.
And the result, which ended the longest winless start to a Premier League season ever, perhaps summed up the Magpies’ current slump.
They sit 15th and eight points clear of the bottom three, but they are steadily sliding into danger amid a run of eight games without a win in all competitions.
Their last victory was against West Brom on December 12, and upcoming games against Arsenal away, Leeds at home and then Everton away means Newcastle could be set for another tumble down the table.
It also means Bruce is back under pressure, as fans are frustrated with the manager’s tactics and the side’s current struggles in front of goal.
Ryan Fraser was sent off as Newcastle suffered their most embarrassing defeat of the seasonAFP
Former Magpie Barton, who spent seven years at St James’ Park, didn’t hold back when asked about Newcastle’s recent form on talkSPORT.
And he believes Bruce’s apparent lack of passion and negative playing style could see him sacked if things don’t improve soon.
“It’s been very negative at Newcastle,” he told the talkSPORT Breakfast.
“We’ve got Callum Wilson up front who can cause problems, but if you’re a striker and you’re 50 yards away from the goal, you’re never going to score…
“You’re not even going to get a chance!
“I think of Newcastle being ambitious, wanting to attack and win games, but Steve is going into games and setting up to just not get beat.
“Sheffield United haven’t won a game – you know they’re going to be nervous, petrified – but we let them get into the game, get hold of the ball and let them have some tempo.
“Even when he gets interviewed after games, Steve is supposed to be a Geordie from that area, but when he wins a game there’s no passion!
Bruce has faced plenty of criticism for his ‘negative’ tactics at NewcastleGetty – Pool
“I remember Sir Bobby Robson would be smiling from ear to ear, and Kevin Keegan too.
“I used to walk into St James’ Park thinking how lucky I am that I’m playing for this football club, but I don’t see that. I don’t see that from the staff, I don’t see that from Steve.
“I know Steve and I’ve got a lot of respect for him, I played against him and he’s a good football guy.
“But I don’t see him enjoying being manager of Newcastle United, and particularly what’s surprising is he’s a Geordie himself, so he should understand that more than anybody.
“I look at what Steven Gerrard has done to Rangers, he’s gone in there and grabbed that club by the scruff of the neck and taken it forward. Someone needs to do that with Newcastle.
“Whether that’s Steve, or whatever the ownership wants to do, they should enjoy being at that football club and playing in that city.
“I feel for the players because I think there’s enough quality in that squad to be playing much better and attractive football and winning more games than we are at the moment.
“They get men behind the ball, try to draw the game out and if they can nick a result from a set-piece or they get a penalty, apparently it’s all well and good.
“But it isn’t, it’s demoralising. It’s not enjoyable or fun to watch and I’m sure it can’t be fun to play. It’s negative, it’s boring and it just drains you.
“You can’t see a light at the end of the tunnel – it’s like this bloody pandemic!
“Steve is under huge pressure. I wouldn’t want him to be sacked, but there is a time where you have to think: ‘What’s best for the club?’
“Newcastle could be looking to do what Leicester, Wolves and Everton have done, but when your coach comes out and says, ‘my brief is just to keep the club in the Premier League’, as a manager I would want more than that. I’d want to thrive, not just survive.”