Bruce eyes PL win before international break
Steve Bruce has challenged Newcastle United to head into the international break with 15 points in the bank to prepare themselves for a gruelling December.
The Magpies secured just their third Premier League win of the season against West Ham United at the London Stadium last weekend with perhaps their most comprehensive display yet under new head coach Bruce as they roared into a 3-0 lead.
Irishman Ciaran Clark, Argentine Federico Fernandez and Englishman Jonjo Shelvey, who also rattled the bar, netted for the visitors and the lead could have been greater had Miguel Almiron and Allan Saint-Maximin not passed up fantastic opportunities when one-on-one.
The Hammers did mount a late comeback through Fabian Balbuena and Robert Snodgrass but Newcastle held on for all three points, a result which lifted the club to 15th in the table and four points clear of the relegation zone.
Bruce’s men have 12 points from their first 11 games, a run which has included a testing series of fixtures for the former Sheffield Wednesday boss as he tries to blend new signings into the team he inherited from predecessor Rafael Benitez, who left his role in the summer after failing to agree a new contract.
That tally is double what they had at the same stage last season and with a hectic schedule lying ahead, victory over Bournemouth at St James’ Park on Saturday would provide the north-east outfit with a more than satisfactory platform.
Bruce said: “I am not looking for credit. The most important thing for me is tomorrow. If we can go in with 15 points to this break, then it would be a decent return. We’d all have been delighted with it considering I didn’t come in until midway through, towards the end, the new players we’ve got, a new system, new team – it all takes a little bit of time.
“If we can get back-to-back wins and get to 15 points from this start to the season before the big December fixture pile-up, then that would be a good return.”
James Mason grew up in Northumberland so is entrenched in both the football and golf scenes. A low handicap golfer, he also follows Newcastle United and predicts big things under Rafa Benitez.