Steve Bruce says even the ‘mighty Rafa Benitez’ could not do any better than he did at Newcastle last season.
The head coach was asked on Friday if it was possible for any manager to be successful under Mike Ashley, after pundits such as Alan Shearer and Gary Neville said recently that the owner was the biggest problem at the club.
Bruce said: ‘I would ask the question: what do you gauge as success? I gauge success last year as matching Rafa’s tally of points (Bruce’s side finished one point less on 44).
Newcastle boss Steve Bruce defended his record and compared his points tally to Rafa Benitez
Benitez finished 10th and 13th during the two seasons he managed Newcastle in the league
‘Rafa, who I have obviously heard a lot of and have the hugest respect for, like all you (reporters) have, where did he finish? He was a world-class manager. Where did he finish (10th and 13th)? Is that success?
‘We matched the mighty Rafa last year. We are in the bottom half of the Premier League and have been there for the best part of 15 years.
‘What’s realistic for where we are? In between 11th and 16th, is that realistic? Can we aim towards the top 10? We’re three, four points adrift of that (currently eight points). Would that be an achievement? In my eyes, probably yes.’
The Magpies are currently 15th in the Premier League on the back of seven matches without a win and Bruce is under pressure from supporters but believes he can turn the situation around.
‘I’ve managed nearly 500 Premier League games so it’s no fluke I’m still here,’ he said. ‘I’ve the equipment to handle whatever comes my way. I’m quietly confident we’ll stay up.
Bruce’s team have not won in seven league games and the coach is under pressure from fans
‘We did it quite comfortably last year so we know this group of players are capable. We’ve had a difficult spell but a lot of that’s been to do with illness and injury over the last six weeks.
‘We’ve had it particularly tough – and if you’re on a tough run you have to put up with the criticism.
‘It’s a demanding league but the one thing you must do is keep that little bit of dignity and do the best you can to get yourself through it.’