SAFE AND SOUND: Newcastle survive the drop, will Bruce avoid the axe?
Newcastle United have avoided relegation from the Premier League ahead of their game with Manchester City but is Steve Bruce safe as manager?
The Newcastle boss has come under fire from Magpies fans all season, particularly during a dreadful run of form which saw them sleepwalk into a relegation fight.
After beating West Bromwich Albion in December, Bruce's side won just one of their next 14 games in all competitions.
That one win was one of the brighter points of the season as Newcastle beat Everton 2-0 away with a much more creative showing.
Injuries to key players
Losing Allan Saint-Maximin, Callum Wilson and Jamaal Lascelles for long periods hasn't helped the teams cause this season.
Three key players being out of action would hurt any team. For Newcastle, it was almost fatal.
Others tried to replace them, but who can replicate what Saint-Maximin brings to this football team? Who can bring the threat that Callum Wilson brings when he is out?
Yet, does that excuse Steve Bruce's underperformance?
To end up in a relegation battle isn't what Magpies fans expect. This club's aim should be building towards the top half.
It's obviously difficult while the dark cloud hangs over the ownership, which may be all the more reason for Bruce to stay.
Another manager may be brought in, but the amount of change might be minute until Mike Ashley sells the club.
"Others to decide" if Bruce is safe at Newcastle
Bruce insisted he should be judged on his time with a full squad available but acknowledged his Newcastle future is out of his hands and he may not be safe.
"It is for others to decide," he said.
"Most clubs will have discussions and review the season. I am a football person and it is still too early to retire.
"But that is conversations other people will have."
Manchester City have already lifted the Premier League title heading into this game which makes it a dead rubber of sorts.
However, for Steve Bruce and his future, it means everything.
He'll just be hoping the players feel the same.
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