Steve Bruce defiant amid calls for his sacking at Newcastle United

Steve Bruce, Manager of Newcastle United reacts during the Premier League match between Sheffield United and Newcastle United at Bramall Lane on January 12, 2021 in Sheffield, England.

Bruce's side were beaten 1-0 by Sheffield United at Bramall Lanelast night.

It was the home side’s first Premier League win of the season – and there was an online backlash on Tyneside to the defeat.

Bruce had already been under pressure before the game following a run of seven games without a win which had included two cup defeats.

And United’s head coach knows his position will be under further scrutiny in the coming days with the club, 15th in the Premier League with 17 games played, seemingly being dragged into a relegation battle.

Asked if he would continue, Bruce said: “Yes, I’m bitterly disappointed that we haven’t played well enough, especially in the first half.

"But I’ll leave that (discussions about his future) to other people – you’re asking the wrong person.

"I’ll never, ever walk away from a challenge, and I think I’ve been in it long enough to have that respect.

“I understand that, especially watching the first half, we weren’t good enough, and at the end of the day, I take the responsibility for that because I pick the team. In hindsight, maybe (the team was wrong), but then again, we have been trying something different because over the last few weeks, we’ve struggled going forward.”

Newcastle, captained by Federico Fernandez, weren’t helped by winger Ryan Fraser’s needless dismissal for two bookable offences before the break.

Bruce had no complaints about Fraser’s yellow cards, though he was unhappy with the penalty decision, taken by referee Andy Madley after a pitchside VAR check, for Billy Sharp’s second-half winner.

"The referee got it spot on in real time,” said Bruce. “It hit (Fernandez's) hand, but it's not intentional. It could have been a foul on him as well.

"VAR is supposed to be for clear and obvious decisions. How someone 300 miles away on a TV screen can overturn it is beyond me. You know when the referee goes to the screen it will be a penalty – it's pathetic. It's beyond me."

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