Newcastle United boss Steve Bruce has suggested that his Magpies side are facing a season-defining run of games following an ‘unbelievably difficult’ start to the term, as quoted by the Chronicle.
Bruce began his career in the St. James’ Park dugout with encounters against five of last season’s top-six clubs in his first nine league games in charge, as well as a meeting with Brendan Rodgers’ European qualifying hopefuls Leicester City.
Newcastle entered the season as a side on the decline, having ended the 2018/19 Premier League campaign 13th in the standings after a top-half finish the term before, and without fan favourite Rafa Benitez in charge.
Bruce immediately set out ambitious targets for himself and the North East outfit following his appointment in July, though, as he stated lofty goals of competing in the cup competitions and achieving more than just survival in the league (Guardian).
The Magpies have since been eliminated from the Carabao Cup at the first time of asking and currently lie inside the relegation places, having recorded two wins from their opening nine games of the league term – coming against Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur (per Sky Sports).
Losing at Chelsea on Saturday has seen Bruce assess his start to life in charge of the Toon, and suggested that their upcoming games will better reflect their true standing in the 2019/20 term, with games against Wolves, West Ham, Bournemouth, Aston Villa, Sheffield United, Southampton, Norwich and Crystal Palace to come before the turn of the year.
“We knew it was going to be a difficult start,” Bruce told reporters at his post-Chelsea press conference. “Yes, Leicester’s always going to be rammed down our throats because it’s there for everyone to see, but we knew we had Arsenal, Man U, Tottenham, Liverpool and Leicester [in our opening games].
“We’ve had an unbelievably difficult start. Now, no disrespect to the teams we play next, but we’ve got teams who we think are going to be in and around us.
“It’s always difficult to assess those tough games: it’s been a tough opening stretch, but we’re back to St James’ Park next and lets hope we can get the result everyone wants.”
Newcastle have certainly had a challenging start facing five of last season’s top-six in their opening nine games of the season, but the Toon – and the St. James’ Park faithful – would have expected to see more against the likes of Norwich, Brighton and Watford than what Bruce’s men were capable of.
When the Magpies’ faced the Hornets in August, the Vicarage Road natives were the only Premier League side yet to win a game this season and had conceded seven goals in their three games played, but were able to take a point in a game lacking clear-cut chances.
Newcastle only managed a point against Brighton at home, too, in a display that saw the visitors dictate proceedings and almost grab the win, had it not been for Fabian Schar’s acrobatic goal-line clearance.
If the Magpies replicate those performances in their upcoming games against sides that Bruce feels will be in and around them come the end of the term, then the potentially season-defining run they are facing will make for bleak reading come the start of 2020.
Newcastle fans, how many points do you expect Bruce’s side to take before 2020? Let us know in the comments below…
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