Bruce bemoans VAR; admits Newcastle must ‘sharpen up’ defensively

Lewis Oldham
Steve Bruce

Steve Bruce has insisted that it was “really harsh” for West Ham to be awarded a penalty, but he admits that Newcastle must improve defensively.

Newcastle United faced West Ham in their first Premier League game of the season at St James’ Park on Sunday. Bruce’s side started brightly as they deservedly lead 2-1 at the break.

But the Hammers came on strong in the second half. They netted three times in just 13 minutes to take all three points. Aaron Cresswell, Said Benrahma, Tomas Soucek and Michail Antonio scored for the visitors.  

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Soucek’s goal was a rebound of Antonio’s penalty miss. David Moyes’ men were awarded the spot-kick as Jacob Murphy was adjudged to have fouled Pablo Fornals inside the 18-yard box.

Bruce criticised this decision during his post-match interview with BBC Sport. He believes that it was “really harsh” to give a penalty:

“Defensively we’ve got to be better. For me the big turning point is the penalty. I know we’ve made a big thing of VAR, for the life of me I can’t understand why the referee who is 10 yards away can’t just come and check because I think he comes and checks then he thinks differently. It was a decent game in the first half, but defensively we have to admit we have to be better.

“That’s what VAR is supposed to be there for. I’ve looked at it four or five times and it looks really harsh to me. Martin [Atkinson] is 10 yards away from it, why doesn’t he go and check it rather than asking somebody’s opinion 300 miles away?

“We were always a threat and just after half-time we had the chance to score again. We have to sharpen up defensively that’s for sure. Once we leave ourselves exposed then it becomes difficult for us. Overall I was really pleased with a lot of it but we have to be better defensively.”

On any potential new signings: “We’re all looking. We’re delighted that we’ve been able to bring Joe Willock in but we’ll never stop looking. We always want more as managers and coaches but as we stand we’re exactly where we were and if we can add a little bit more to it then we’ll try.”