Lee Clark defends Newcastle fans from pundits and shares Steve Bruce sack theory

Newcastle hero Lee Clark believes Steve Bruce will remain as manager until at least the end of the season, despite just two wins from the last 20 outings in all competitions.

The Tyneside outfit have nine games to seal their Premier League fate for another season, one more than relegation rivals Fulham have at their disposal.

Recent results have caused vast swathes of Newcastle supporters call for Bruce to walk as the club faces a third season of Championship football since Mike Ashley took the helm in 2007.

But reports this week suggest the Sports Direct tycoon is in no hurry to sack the embattled boss, despite the dismal run of form and lacklustre performances.

And Clark also can't see Ashley pulling the trigger on Bruce given the fact Rafa Benitez and Alan Shearer both failed to keep Newcastle in the top flight when stepping into the dugout towards the business end of the season.

"I watched Steve after the Brighton result and I've been there myself when I was manager at Birmingham. When you think things are going against you and it's starting to affect you but you want to keep up the fight. You don't want to walk away because you've been part of the problem," he exclusively told the Daily Star Sport.

"It can affect your health and it can affect your family. Because it's getting to a stage where it's getting personal for Steve and the family, which is totally out of order.

"Yeah, have a go at him for results. He'll take that, no problem. But when it's gone overboard with the personal stuff, I don't like seeing that.

"Now, on the other hand, as a fan – have the results been good enough? No way shape or form. Have the performances been good enough? No way shape or form. Have the results on top of the performances been good enough? No way. And the manager should be under pressure with results like that.

"But I don't see him getting sacked. I don't see the club making a change. They've done it before this late and it hasn't worked. I think they're going to stick with Steve Bruce no matter what.

"I think it'll only take a couple of wins from now to the end of the season to make them safe. Hopefully he can do that.

"There are big decisions for the club to make. There are big decisions for Steve to make personally. Does he need this? His health and family are the most important things. The decision might be taken out of Steve's hands himself. But it certainly hasn't been a good watch. They haven't performed for many many weeks now."

With Newcastle fans quick to vent their anger on social media sites, radio phone-ins and outside the training ground, pundits have been quick to chastise the support in recent months.

Rio Ferdinand last week suggested supporters chip in to buy out Ashley at an asking price of £350m, while the likes of Robbie Savage, Chris Sutton, Mark Lawrenson and Richard Keys have all had a pop at the fanbase in recent months.

But as a boyhood fan of the club, Clark has launched a staunch defence of his fellow supporters, claiming pundit criticism is way wide of the mark.

"Newcastle fans have come under a lot of unfair criticism from pundits and people in football who aren't from the area," he added.

"They keep saying 'are they expecting to reach the Champions League?'

"Newcastle fans aren't expecting Champions League football. They're expecting a team to deliver performances, get consistent results. Not run away with win after win after win.

"They're not a top ten team. But try and get a level of consistency and results. Not have a regular relegation battle every year.

"I've heard people say they were brought up on the 'Entertainers', the group I was involved in the 1990's – and that's what they're expecting again. They're not. They know that's a million miles away.

"They're realistic about that. They just want to see a brand of football that gives a problem to the opposition, certainly the teams around them.

"Go toe-to-toe with the teams around them. Try and get results and that's all fans are asking. They don't just want to try and survive every season."

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