STEVE BRUCE has had to deal with a large chunk of criticism since taking over in July, but defender Ciaran Clark reckons the Newcastle United manager is out to give the fans something they would like to see – entertainment.

Clark was back in the Premier League for the first time this season on Sunday when the Magpies delivered an encouraging and match-winning display to increase the problems for Manchester United.

The 30-year-old was impressive in a defensive sense to keep Marcus Rashford and Co at bay at St James’ Park, but Newcastle were far more attack-minded than had been expected and it paid off.

Even though Bruce had threatened beforehand to revert to Rafa Benitez’s more defensively shaped tactics in the aftermath of losing heavily to Leicester, Newcastle actually showed more vibrancy in the final third – with winger Allan Saint-Maximim particularly instrumental.

Clark said: “It was a time when we needed to get the result before the break and we knew we had to do it. It’s Man United as well, they have quality. To put that performance in, a clean sheet and the win too, should boost everyone.

“We were more attacking. Saint-Maximim showed that early on with his dribbling and desire to get at players, win corners, we created chances. That’s what the fans want to see, putting the opposition under pressure. We worked hard and got the result.”

Despite conceding plenty of possession to Manchester United, something which Newcastle have been criticised for since the start of the campaign, Bruce’s players managed to make the most of the space and time they had on the ball.

Having beaten Tottenham and Manchester United since taking over, the challenge facing Bruce is for his team to get more results with another tough trip to Chelsea on Saturday week on the horizon.

Clark said: “The majority of the season the lads have done well, they have just been unlucky in a lot of the games. Results haven’t gone quite our way. I think at Leicester wasn’t great at all, everyone involved knew that. Whoever played on Sunday had to try to get a positive vibe around the place. The fans were brilliant and we deserved that win.

“We have to stay positive now. It was a tough game, but one where we weren’t too flustered, not many chances for them. We have to take the positives from training and work hard. If we keep doing what we have been doing, with the exception of a few results, we will keep that positivity that has come back and use it to our advantage.

“The attitude in training before it was bang on and the manager made some big decisions in terms of what side to put out. Everyone wanted to do their best and it was a fantastic response after the Leicester defeat.

“It was a positive to get the win before the break. Every game in this league is tough, we know we have Chelsea next after Man United. We can enjoy that last win and keep training to prepare for that. We have to stay positive and build on it. There is pressure to win because we know other teams can win games and are doing so.”

Clark has entered the final two years of his contract on Tyneside and he was interested in moving before the transfer window closed because of his lack of first team football. He was in and out of the side under Benitez, while Bruce had not started him in the league since taking over.

Bruce told him he wanted him to stay until at least January and suggested he would get a chance to prove himself, something he is keen to do by building on his display against Manchester United.

The former Aston Villa defender said: “It has been hard because we have a lot of centre-halves fit now. We have not had that situation over the last couple of years.

“It’s all about staying in there. We have a big squad and all near enough fit. Sometimes it’s not just about how well you are training it’s about how well you do on the pitch in games. Hopefully I have given the manager a tough decision and I will just focus on myself.

“Over the last couple of seasons I have found myself in and out of the team. I have wanted to just play more regularly if possible.

“I had a chat with the manager towards the end of the window and he said he wanted to keep as many people here as possible to assess what he had.

“It’s about waiting for my chance and I have tried to stay positive until I got that chance. Luckily enough I got the chance and we got the clean sheet and the win.”

While Clark will be in no rush to have his own future sorted, it has emerged that goalkeeper Martin Dubravka and midfielder Isaac Hayden are close to agreeing a new deal.

Diubravka and Hayden’s deals run out in the summer of 2021 – like Clark – and the pair are known to have been in discussions over an extension for some time.