Steve Bruce will only class Newcastle’s Carabao Cup run as an achievement if they reach the final – and has accepted criticism over their shot-shy Premier League form.
The Toon chief will become the first since Graeme Souness to lead the Geordies to two quarter finals in a year if they can beat Newport on Wednesday.
The ex-Man Utd defender refuses to recognise a place in the last 8 as a landmark, even though Newcastle’s woeful cup history in the last decade makes progress unusual.
Bruce knows he needs to get more out of his squad, who beat Morecambe 5-0 in the last round, but who have only mustered three goals from just three shots on target in the Premier League games so far.
The bright spot has been ruthlessness in the cup and Bruce said: “This is a chance to get to the last 8 again but I don’t look at that as an achievement.
“We have to get past it and get to a final. And I know what it would mean to the people of Newcastle. You go into a cup competition and an achievement is going to a final, and if you win it then really that is achieved.”
Newcastle scraped a draw at Spurs on Sunday after a 96 minute penalty from Callum Wilson, but they were poor.
Bruce conceded: “We have not been good enough in two games in the Premier League. Accept it and move on and try to improve.
“I don’t set us saying look lads don’t pass it to each other, make sure you don’t go anywhere near their goal, and if you have a chance of scoring please don’t score it!
“Look, we have to play in a certain way against the bigger teams, as you can imagine. But still you have to perform better than what we did.
“Yes I set up to stay in the game against Spurs but I expected us to have more on the counter attack and more possession on the ball. We understand that and it was a difficult game but we stuck at it.
Asked what he wanted to improve Bruce said: “The ball retention. I still don’t think I have had my strongest team yet. That would help us settle in that respect. I don’t want to make excuses.
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“I have had this summer to put my stamp on the team. Last year after watching us we had played in a certain way for a long time and I didn’t think we had the personnel to change. This year I played two up top against West Ham.
“I would like to go to a back four and have wide players with a bit of pace which hopefully soon we will have. Hopefully we will have a change in style.”
Matt Ritchie is having a shoulder operation and is out for around ten weeks and Matt Longstaff and Ciaran Clark are out with long term problems.
Newcastle’s club record win is 13-0 against Newport in 1946 when Len Shackleton scored a double hattrick.
Bruce joked: “I’d settle for two or three and a win. Thanks for the stat though.”
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