Steve Bruce has blasted his Newcastle squad's last performance as “frigging hopeless, s****”.
The head coach is under increasing fire from fans after his side lost to Sheffield United on Tuesday.
And Bruce admitted: “I’m fair game. We were absolutely frigging hopeless the other night.
“Absolute s****, we were.”
In a candid interview Bruce admitted he “picked the wrong team” this week.
And he said the dreadful first half performance at Bramall Lane was like “throwing a hand-grenade” into the tense situation on Tyneside.
He is safe in his job for now with the club hierarchy believing they have enough talent in the squad to avoid the drop.
Newcastle visit Arsenal on Monday night winless in eight games.
Bruce reacted to a week of scrutiny by saying: “It has been personal from day one. There are people out there who didn't think I should be in the job to start with.
"All I can do is accept it and not be too down with it.
“If you look at my record over the years, for being a team that is in the bottom half of the league, then I’ve got enough on my C.V. to make sure I can try and slowly take the club forward.”
Bruce has warned the “gloves are off” and told his players they are doing it his way from now.
The veteran boss is ready to ditch the defensive back five formation that his squad prefers, and go four at the back to create more attacking threat.
Bruce reckons his stars have got “comfortable”, and will shake it up in the next few weeks.
Senior stars are believed to be happier playing with three centre backs.
That formula, introduced under Rafa Benitez, makes Newcastle solid because the Spaniard believed only Jamaal Lascelles, still recovering from covid, had good pace.
Bruce will revert to a back four, releasing another player into midfield and increasing the options going forward, after scoring just one goal in six games.
Bruce said: “The gloves are off now. I’m going to do it my way.
“We’re certainly comfortable with the central defenders we’ve got because week in, week out they’re arguably our most consistent players.
“Okay, we’ve played a certain way to try to make sure we get the results that we need. It's pragmatic. But I’ve said from day one the way I wanted to play – more on the front foot. I haven’t done it enough.
“It’s something I’ve toyed with since I’ve been at the club and, for me, to change is sometimes difficult for them. We all like being comfortable. I’m going to do it the way I see fit and see where we are.”
Bruce still has plenty of fight left in him, and speaks to MD Lee Charnley every day. He's not sought assurances about his future, and instead wants performances to improve.
Asked if he'd lost patience with certain players, Bruce added: “No but it’s that performance like we had the other night or against Brentford, or against Norwich away last year, or Leicester away last year.
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“I can give you them, which were unfortunately unacceptable. I have to take the responsibility for that and ask the question why. Why have we done so well against Arsenal? Why have we done so well against Liverpool?”
He explained: “Too often on my watch we’ve thrown a hand grenade in which blows it all up. We haven’t been able to handle the expectation to go and beat a team.
“I don't think all of the criticism is fair but I understand it. If I was a fan watching that I would say it wasn't good enough.”
Asked if his team at Sheffield had too much of a defensive look, Bruce said: “Point taken. In hindsight I picked the wrong team."
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