Neville’s brutally honest dissection of Newcastle’s major problems under Bruce

Gary Neville has launched a scathing verbal attack on Newcastle and former manager Rafa Benitez, believing that Steve Bruce doesn't deserve the criticism directed his way this season.

Newcastle's head coach has presided over a run of eight games in all competitions without a win which has left him squarely in the sights of a growing band of critics.

Indeed, Bruce enjoyed a successful time as a player, particularly during his period at Manchester United, but has had to work long and hard to establish himself on the other side of the fence.

However Neville, who played alongside Bruce at Old Trafford, has defended the under-fire boss and also claimed that predecessor Benitez underwhelmed during his stint at St James' Park.

Speaking on Monday Night Football, he said: "The unhappiness towards this manager is embedded from the history, rather than who he is or the job that he's doing. If I was a Newcastle fan, I'd be unhappy now.

"I'd be unhappy under Rafa Benitez, I'd be unhappy under Steve McClaren and the previous three managers before that. It's been appalling for the past 10/12 years.

"I think looking for differences between Benítez and Steve Bruce… I don't see any difference because the key thing for me in football is points.

"Rafa Benitez had been at two Premier League clubs before he went to Newcastle and was regarded as one of the best in the world. He was on £6m when he was at Newcastle and got 44 and 45 points in his two seasons.

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"Last season, Steve Bruce got 44 points. He's matched him for points, and at this stage of the season over the last four seasons, Bruce has got more in each of his two seasons compared to those managed under Rafa.

"What Rafa had was great PR and he had a great rapport with the fans because he stuck with the club and got them out of the Championship.

"I thought the football was awful under Rafa, and this is something that is culturally set at Newcastle. It is not a Steve Bruce problem. Newcastle have got a cultural problem where football expectation up there is attacking football but they've been served up dire tripe for the past 10 years.

"The ownership and the executive at that club have not delivered the football they want for years and years. I get demoralised when I go up to Newcastle when I should be inspired."

Anger at Bruce's stewardship has been mounting among sections of the club's support in recent weeks, but came to a head on Tuesday night when his team turned in a submissive display against bottom-of-the-table Sheffield United and became the first this season to lose to them in the Premier League.

And speaking ahead of their clash with Arsenal on Monday night, Jamie Carragher laid into Bruce and his struggling team.

The Liverpool legend said: "There's got to be a big change. Steve Bruce mentioned how poor the performance was against Sheffield United, and it's all on. The results went against them at the weekend, when you think about West Brom getting back into the picture and Brighton winning.

"Against Sheffield United, it was one of the worst performances I've seen all season – you've got to factor in who they were up against, a team who hadn't won in the Premier League this season.

"With the supporters, they get a lot of criticism in terms of what they should expect. Most supporters just want a bit of hope, but Newcastle fans don't like the owner, don't like the manager and they don't like the team."

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