ONE game in as Newcastle United manager and Steve Bruce is still smiling, for now anyway.

That’s a good thing, right? Bruce knew it was going to be tough. He has taken an interest in the goings-on at St James’ Park throughout his life, but he has already had a good insight in to what it is going to be like during his time in charge of his boyhood club.

One defeat to Arsenal, a team with an eye on a Champions League place, and there has already been criticism of his methods, having admitted – and then changed his tune yesterday – for his reasons for switching Jetro Willems’ position moments before conceding the decisive goal last Sunday.

That reversal arrived on an afternoon when the rain teemed down on the Tyneside turf and there were protests against Mike Ashley’s running of the club; the local boy who had waited 58 years to represent Newcastle was already fully appreciative of what could be in store.

But Bruce, as he gears up for his second outing at a vibrant Carrow Road to face Norwich City this afternoon, is not someone who will give up on his dream quickly. The 58-year-old, knowing how proud a friend of his and fellow fan, Sir Bobby Robson, was to lead the club, wants to be the man to bring everyone together again.

There will be a belief that such a target is impossible while Mike Ashley remains in charge, but that will not stop Bruce from trying. Sitting in the media suite at the training ground on Friday morning, the Corbridge-born former Wallsend Boys defender revealed how he wants to do everything within his power to achieve his goal.

“That’s my biggest challenge! Can I try to repair that? Can I try to help in this situation?” said Bruce. “The only way I can do that is to get a few results and give them a team that they enjoy watching. That’s the only way of repairing it if I possibly can. Whether that is possible, time will only tell!”

The reaction to losing to Arsenal could have surprised many, after all it was only a slender one-goal defeat to a talented Gunners team – and one of the arguments from Newcastle fans is that the game was there for the taking.

Bruce has inherited a difficult situation because of who he has succeeded too. He does point to last season’s frustrating start, however, when Benitez was unable to oversee a victory from the opening ten Premier League games.

Bruce said: “I do not think I will be entitled to that (patience). But ten or 11 games which he was afforded, there was not a murmur from the ground. I do not think I will have that luxury so I would like to win tomorrow (Norwich) if I possibly can then a nice easy one at Tottenham next week then at Liverpool two weeks later. But that is why I am here. To be in the Premier League and compete against big clubs.”

Bruce added: “The big thing last week was we had a good opportunity. Afterwards, the thing for me, I’ve been playing against Arsenal for 20 years and I can’t remember my goalkeeper being so quiet. So, we did a lot of things well in the first half, but it’s fair to say we ran out of juice, the intensity dropped, but we still ran further than anyone in the Premier League (except for Liverpool) last week.

“That’s an improvement on where we have been, we managed to keep Arsenal at bay, they didn’t create anything against us, it was a mistake by us and that’s the disappointment. But that’s the levels, we make a bad pass, give the ball away, don’t come towards the ball and then the two centre-backs jump out of position so … It’s disappointing.”

Despite the groans and the impression that supporters weren’t happy after losing to Arsenal, Bruce has encountered fans ahead of the trip to Norwich and he has heard nothing but encouragement so far.

“Not one comment has been negative,” he said.

Bruce returns to Carrow Road today, the place he spent three years sandwiched between spells at Gillingham and Manchester United.

He remembers a nightmare debut for the Canaries, so perhaps a 1-0 home defeat to Arsenal as Newcastle manager is actually a good omen for the future.

“Norwich gave me a chance and I played 250 times, so they gave me my chance,” he said. “My debut was against the mighty Liverpool team of the 80s. Kenny Dalglish, Ian Rush, all of that lot.

“The first attack was down the right-hand side, in front of a crowd of 30,000, after 30 seconds, I thought I could head that … whoosh, it went straight in the top corner, an OG. That wasn’t a very good start!

“Twenty minutes later, Dalglish turned Dave Watson, the ball was heading towards the top corner again and ‘bosh’ I headed that one in as well. I had two OGs in 20 minutes and ended up in the Hall of Fame, their best ever XI, so there you go, after not the best of starts that’s what can happen.”