Newcastle owner Mike Ashley is not planning to sack Steve Bruce despite the Magpies being just two points above the Premier League relegation zone after their 3-0 defeat at Brighton on Saturday.
Bruce has long been unpopular with a section of the Newcastle supporters and calls for the 60-year-old to be sacked reached a crescendo overnight following the dismal showing on the south coast.
For the third time this season fans protested outside St James’ Park with banners following the defeat.
However, Sky Sports News has been told that Ashley intends to keep Bruce at the helm due to the manager’s loyalty to the owner and his passion for the club.
Ashley is downbeat at the manner of the performance at the Amex but expects manager and players alike to step up to the challenge in the coming weeks.
While Newcastle are just two points above 18th-placed Fulham, they do have a game in hand. However, the Magpies are in wretched form, with just two wins in their last 20 games in all competitions.
Newcastle’s 3-0 defeat to Brighton saw the Seagulls move four points above them in the table, and Bruce conceded his side’s performance in such a crucial game was unacceptable.
However, he insisted he would not resign, saying: “I accept that wasn’t good enough tonight.
“It rests at my door. I accept that and will see what develops, but I won’t give up.
“I’ve been around the block a long time. That experience, [I’ve been] trying to draw on it over the last few weeks in particular.
“So as I’ve said, I’m not the type to just walk away from a bad defeat, but you’re going to have to ask others.”
Souness: Will Newcastle win another game?
Following Newcastle’s loss at Brighton, former Magpies boss Graeme Souness was critical of the attitude of the club’s players and questioned whether they could win another game this season.
He told Sky Sports: “Right now, every game is a big game for them. They don’t have any easy games left, the way they’re playing and the appetite they’re showing.
“It’s worrying for them and Steve Bruce knows that. You can lose one way [or] you can lose by not having a go. I think tonight – Bruce alluded to it – they went down without a fight.
“The buck stops with the manager, guaranteed. I hate talking about managers losing their job. But I think under this owner – someone who is looking to sell the club – it is paramount that they stay in the Premier League.
“He won’t be looking at individuals, he won’t have any sympathy for individuals right now. He’ll be looking at his asset, what it is worth in the Premier League and how attractive that is to potential buyers, compared to being in the Championship.
“I look at that group of players and I wouldn’t be confident about them winning another game, if that’s their attitude tonight. They were going through the motions.”
‘Sack him before it’s too late’
Newcastle fans’ group Toon for Change, which has over 1,000 members, left Ashley is no doubt as to their feelings on Saturday night, releasing a statement reading: “Tonight’s result has presented Mike Ashley and the club’s management with an opportunity to justifiably sack an underachieving coach captaining a sinking ship that is heading straight for the Championship.
“If history has taught Ashley one thing, it’s that acting too late in these circumstances results in one thing: relegation.
“We implore the club to remove Bruce as coach immediately and appoint an ambitious manager ahead of the international break, who has the capability of keeping Newcastle United in the Premier League.
“There is still hope for the club this season but we are running out of time. We need a decisive, brave decision – and we need it now.
“Sack him before it is too late.”