Newcastle United's 1-0 defeat to Sheffield United at Bramall Lane on Tuesday evening heaped more pressure on boss Steve Bruce; Sky Sports News understands Ashley has a healthy working relationship with Bruce; Magpies have failed to win in their last eight matches
Thursday 14 January 2021 06:28, UK
Steve Bruce retains the support of Newcastle owner Mike Ashley, despite fans calling for him to be sacked following defeat to Sheffield United.
The pressure on Bruce increased on Tuesday night after the Blades recorded their first league win of the season against a lacklustre Newcastle, who have now failed to win in their last eight matches.
Despite unrest amongst the club's fan base it is understood Ashley has a healthy working relationship with Bruce, who he believes remains the right man to turn results and form around and, more importantly, keep Newcastle out of the relegation zone.
Newcastle currently sit eight points clear of the drop following a good start to the season, however 18th placed Fulham have two games in hand.
Speaking after Tuesday's loss, Bruce said he would not walk away from the club and the topic of his future is for other people to answer, but insisted he took full responsibility for the defeat.
"I'll never ever walk away from a challenge," he told reporters. "I've been in it long enough to have that respect, but I understand especially watching the first half - we weren't good enough and I take the responsibility for that, because I picked the team."
Ashley - in addition to the fans - is desperate to keep the club in the top flight.
Ashley's patience would be expected to run thin if Newcastle were dragged into the bottom three and a dog fight for survival, but their early season form has given them - as it stands - a bit of a cushion.
Bruce has been told he will not have any money to spend in the January transfer window and is hoping to bring in one or two loan signings before the month is out.
Sky Sports Football's Adam Bate:
Newcastle supporters saw it coming a mile off. This was Sheffield United, without a win this season, without a win for six months. A team not only devoid of confidence but already down in the eyes of many. Of course they were going to get the better of Steve Bruce's side.
What might have shocked even the Newcastle manager's more fervent critics was how his side seemingly allowed the opposition to play their way back into form. They were the architects, foremen, builders and advertisers of their own downfall as they lost 1-0 at Bramall Lane.
Bruce might point to Ryan Fraser's red card at the end of the first half and argue that this was the pivotal moment in the match but the problems were evident well before that.
It was there in the cautious selection that saw Newcastle go with five at the back. It had almost worked in stifling Arsenal on Saturday but here it sent the message that keeping it tight was the best bet even against the bottom club.