‘There were large parts I was pleased about’ – Steve Bruce defends Newcastle display after Aston Villa loss

The Magpies are just seven points clear of the relegation zone after a fifth consecutive defeat, as the pressure mounts on Bruce.

But the Newcastle boss took a positive spin on the defeat to Dean Smith’s side at Villa Park, following goals from Ollie Watkins and Bertrand Traore.

“We’ve gifted them a goal and after that it was difficult, but there were large parts of it that I was pleased about,” Bruce told Sky Sports. “I’ve seen enough to be encouraged. There was enough there to work on.

“It’s always the difficult part [to attack], we’ve found it extremely difficult to score a goal. Another game Tuesday, let’s get ready.

“I’ve seen enough, them two coming on, one or two get back fit, we’ve got a problem at centre-back. Big players are the ones who can create, they’re coming back to fitness.

“We’re half-way, we’ve been stuck on 19 points, we’ve had a difficult period. I’ve seen enough of the team and what they’re capable of to try and finish where we finished last season [13th, 10 points above the relegation zone].

“I’ve been criticised for everything, I don’t necessarily agree with that either [accusations that the style of play is too negative]. Of course we’re not going to be entertaining or open, if we go that way, I don’t think we’ve got enough. We’ve got to tighten up defensively.”

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