Under-pressure Newcastle boss Steve Bruce wants his team to “shut a few people up” over the coming weeks.
Bruce has been heavily criticised after a dismal week which saw his team beaten in the Carabao Cup quarter-finals by Championship side Brentford.
They then had only 25% possession when beaten by Manchester City on Saturday.
“The criticism hurts but I hope to keep working hard to shut a few people up,” said Bruce. “The only way to do that is through results.”
Wednesday’s Premier League encounter with Liverpool does not offer immediate hope of respite for Bruce and his players given they have lost five successive games against Jurgen Klopp’s men, conceding 15 goals in the process.
Newcastle’s season is delicately poised as they are only one win away from moving into mid-table and getting close to the 10th-place spot Bruce said was the aim for the campaign.
However, defeats by leaders Liverpool and second-placed Leicester, who visit St James’ Park on 3 January, would leave them on the edge of a relegation battle.
It was the difference between Bruce’s pre-season comments and those after the City defeat, when he said his ‘remit’ was to keep Newcastle in the Premier League, that has sparked more debate about his tenure.
Newcastle’s fans are getting irritated – especially because they see what are viewed as similar sized clubs in Everton and Aston Villa impressing at the top end of the table.
This does ignore the fact Everton lost £265m over the previous three seasons – and then spent around £60m on new signings before the current campaign, plus the significant wages needed to get James Rodriguez on a free transfer.
Aston Villa have spent more than £200m on new players since their promotion in 2019.
In contrast, Newcastle have spent around £100m over the past two close seasons and recouped £30m of that by selling Ayoze Perez to Leicester.
“I can understand the frustration but we are where we are,” said Bruce.
“We’d all love to have what Everton have been able to do over the last two or three years and certainly, since I left Aston Villa, the spending power that has propelled them up the league.
“But unfortunately this is we are where we are at this particular moment.
“The remit hasn’t changed since I walked through the door but my attitude towards it is, we have to try and aim towards the top 10. We’d all like to be shooting for that but firstly, obviously, we have to remain as a Premier League outfit.”