The five key quotes from Steve Bruce's post-Manchester United press conference
Photo credit:(Getty Images/Stu Forster)

Newcastle United boss Steve Bruce took some positives from his sides' performance in their trip to Manchester United, however the game ultimately ended in another defeat to pile the pressure on the Magpies in their battle to avoid relegation.

The Magpies were arguably the better side in the first half at Old Trafford on Sunday night and went in to half-time with the scores level at 1-1 after Allan Saint-Maximin had cancelled out Marcus Rashford's opener.

But the Red Devils improved in the second 45 minutes and eventually took the three points with second half goals from Daniel James and Bruno Fernandes.

The Newcastle manager has spoken following the game. What are they key points he made?

"I was pleased with large periods of the game."

Manchester United could have considered themselves lucky to have taken the lead through Rashford in the first half after Newcastle gave their hosts a difficult opening period to the game on Sunday evening.

The Magpies were rarely troubled by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side in the first half at Old Trafford and if anything, it was Bruce's men who looked the most likely to score first.

Bruce did admit that the defending could have been better in the build-up to Rashford's opener, particularly from Emil Krafth who hardly covered himself in glory.

But overall, the Newcastle boss was pleased with the majority of the performance and took plenty from it.

The harsh reality for him is that it was an eighth defeat in ten matches for United and with their nearest rivals in the table, Fulham, looking like an improved outfit in recent weeks, the threat of relegation continues to loom on Tyneside. 

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"Our threat waned when we lost Joelinton."

With top scorer Callum Wilson already sidelined for the foreseeable, the last thing Bruce wanted to see was another striker limp off the pitch.

Joelinton has hardly impressed since his £40million move from Hoffenheim in 2019 with just three Premier League goals to his name, but in an already depleted Newcastle side, more injuries need to be avoided at all costs.

Despite only registering the one shot of note in the entire game, Joelinton was a presence who could have caused issues for the vulnerable defensive duo of Victor Lindelöf and Harry Maguire in the Manchester United backline and Bruce felt that the attacking threat was severely reduced once the Brazilian forward limped off the Old Trafford pitch.

Despite the likes of Saint-Maximin, Miguel Almiron and Ryan Fraser being on the pitch once Joelinton had been substituted, Newcastle really lacked a target man and this was something that the home side would have been pleased about.

It remains to be seen how severe Joelinton's injury actually is, but with only Dwight Gayle remaining as a fit recognised striker, this does nothing to fill Newcastle fans with any confidence in terms of getting goals in the coming weeks. 

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"We want to continue defending from the front."

Many Newcastle fans were wondering what the appointment of Graeme Jones could bring to the side when he arrived from AFC Bournemouth in January.

It seems no coincidence that the style of play has changed since his arrival at the club and even against the better sides in the division, Newcastle are now not afraid to press teams higher up the pitch in an aim to force mistakes.

This tactic could be key in the coming weeks as the season nears its closing stages and it is something that has worked, particularly in the 3-2 win over Southampton where one goal came from a high press.

Attacking midfielder Almiron is particularly key to this with his energy and there were a couple of occasions on Sunday where Manchester United did have errors in their game, largely down to the press.

Performances have improved significantly of late and Bruce hopes that this continues and his side can get more goals as a reward for their brave play that is now being shown. 

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"We need to pick up points moving forward."

The two recent victories over Everton and Southampton have actually turned out to be crucial at this stage given the fact that Newcastle would already be in the bottom three without those six points gained.

In both of those matches, especially the Saints' victory at St James' Park, Newcastle showed real fight under difficult circumstances with the game being played in horrendous conditions and with the Magpies also ending the game with nine men.

Bruce seems confident that his team's fortunes can begin to turn in the coming weeks and in reality that simply has to happen otherwise Newcastle could be facing a third relegation under Mike Ashley's ownership.

Supporters need to put the last two games into context and realise that in Chelsea and Manchester United were facing two of last season's top four.

It's the games coming up that are crucial in Newcastle's season and they simply have to be targeting three points in their next match against Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday night. 

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"I'm convinced we'll stay out of relegation trouble."

A few weeks ago, Bruce was trying to dismiss claims that his team was in a relegation fight, but it is simply not the case and recent results for themselves and the Cottagers back this up.

The games coming up could be viewed as winnable ties against Wolves, West Bromwich Albion, Aston Villa and Brighton & Hove Albion and the Magpies must simply pick points up in these matches to pull away from the drop zone.

Fulham's schedule isn't favourable after their next match against Crystal Palace, with Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur all to come in three successive matches following the trip to Selhurst Park.

Newcastle gaffer Bruce is confident that his players will do their jobs to get themselves out of trouble at the one end of the table but he needs to get this confidence into the minds of his players as well.

Results in the games against the likes of Manchester United are simply bonuses but the pressure is back on now to perform in the matches coming up where points are a must.