Manager of the month nominee Bruce heaps praise on Saint-Maximin
NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - JUNE 28: Newcastle United Head Coach Steve Bruce speaks during the pre match press conference during the FA Cup Quarter Final match between Newcastle United and Manchester City at St. James Park on June 28, 2020 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images)

Newcastle head coach Steve Bruce began his regular pre-match media briefing in a joyous mood after it was revealed that he had been nominated for June's Premier League manager of the month award.

The Magpies boss said: "The team is what puts you in this situation and of course, the team I have around me as well.

"It's a big pat on the back to them too to be nominated, especially in this league.

"So fair play to the people who work for me and the team who have performed very well for me over the last month."

  • Maximin effort

Newcastle's star man Allan Saint-Maximin was also nominated for an award this month, with the Frenchman named in the shortlist for the league's player of the month.

"I think every interview I do now after the game, the big talk always is about Allan.

"I think people enjoy watching him, I said from day one that if you haven't seen this kid play before, then you're going to enjoy watching him.

"His assist the other night for Sean Longstaff's goal, I don't think there was anyone on the pitch who could beat three men in five yards like he did, and set it up the way he did." 

  • Team tweaking

On rotating the squad against Bournemouth, Bruce said: "It helped that we used the squad, we made five or six changes, it was always in my thoughts that we had to.

"It was our fourth game in 11 days, which is difficult for any club.

"I was delighted with the players that had come in, it gave us a freshness."

"Since we've changed formation, it's allowed the players a bit more freedom and I think they're enjoying that, certainly the forward-thinking players.

"All of a sudden we look a goal threat."

  • Team news

It was revealed that midfielder Sean Longstaff is set to be ruled out of this weekend's game with an injury, with Joelinton and Jamaal Lascelles joining the doubtful list.

"I don't think Sean Longstaff will make it, we're waiting on Joelinton, and Jamaal Lascelles has got a nasty knock to his ankle, so we'll see how he is.

"We've still got another 48 hours before the game, so let's hope it's good news."

  • Saint-Maximin set for a rest?

When asked about Allan Saint-Maximin's fitness, Bruce said: "I don't expect him to be in great nick today, but hopefully by tomorrow he'll be recovered.

"Because when you're playing well like he is, and the ability to take him off after an hour the other night with the job done effectively.

"Hopefully there's still a bit of freshness in there."

  • On West Ham's hammer blow to Chelsea

Newcastle's head coach praised Sunday's opponents West Ham for recording a shock 3-2 victory over Chelsea on Wednesday.

"Not many teams score three against Chelsea, just at the right time unfortunately for us, they've just had a real confidence booster.

"They've produced, arguably, the result of the week.

"Congratulations to them and David Moyes, who'll be delighted.

"So we know what to expect, this is how hard this Premier League is.

"A club at the bottom can score three times against Chelsea, which doesn't happen in other countries around the world.

"So it just shows you how difficult this Premier League is."

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  • Looking to Sunday

Bruce heaped the praise on Hammers boss David Moyes, by saying: "They've got a really top manager in Moyesy, who's been there, done it all and got the t-shirt shall we say, so they've got that as an advantage.

"We know it's gonna be difficult for us, that's for sure, they always are.

Newcastle defeated West Ham in the reverse fixture in November, defeating the East London based club 3-2.

"We've had one of our best performances down there, so hopefully we can repeat that again."

  • Survival achieved 

When asked about the goals for the remainder of the season, Bruce replied: "We've achieved it, the first goal because let's be fair, there was a lot that wrote us off in the first few weeks and wrote the team off, and myself.

"I'm delighted for everybody behind the scenes that we are a Premier League club again."

  • Top ten push

"Now we've given ourselves the platform to go and see if we can mount a challenge to try and get into the top ten," said Bruce.

"And if we can, I think that'll be hugely satisfying for everybody at the club and everybody associated with Newcastle.

"To have a top ten finish would be brilliant."

  • A squad reminder 

Steve Bruce reiterated his delight for players who have been out of the squad for a while and who made the correct impression when given the chance.

"When you make changes, you want them to work and I was delighted for people who've had to wait patiently.

"Emil Krafth springs to mind, Nabil Bentaleb springs to mind, Lazaro springs to mind and they reminded us what good players they are.

"Emil has benefitted from the change, from being a wing-back to just being a full-back has helped him enormously.

"I was pleased as these people have been knocking on the door for weeks and I'm delighted they've taken their chance."

  • Bruce's south coast stormer

The Newcastle head coach spoke about the midweek win at Bournemouth being an enjoyable encounter for him.

"It's not often you are 4-0 up away from home, let me assure you, it's not happened many times to me!

"I have to say, looking back at the whole thing, the performance and the way they went about their work, I enjoyed watching them.

"There have been times this year, I have to be open and honest about it, where I haven't enjoyed watching them.

"We've been resolute and difficult to play against, but there was a certain freedom about us and the players certainly responded to the tweak in formation.

"Hopefully that'll keep paying dividends."

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