STEVE BRUCE last night took full responsibility as Newcastle United’s nosediving form worsened with a 1-0 defeat at Sheffield United – but the embattled Magpies manager insists he will not be walking away from his position in charge of the club.

Newcastle became the first team to lose to Sheffield United in the Premier League this season as Billy Sharp’s 73rd-minute penalty condemned them to defeat at Bramall Lane.

Ryan Fraser’s dismissal for two yellow cards on the stroke of half-time meant the Magpies had to play the entire second half with ten men, and Sharp’s spot-kick winner was a controversial one as Federico Fernandez was adjudged to have handled the ball despite appearing to be pushed by Sharp.

Nevertheless, Newcastle were still second best when both sides had 11 men, and Bruce’s defensive team selection was heavily criticised by supporters on social media.

A large number of fans have been calling for Bruce to go, but with Mike Ashley unlikely to fire his manager with the Magpies still eight points clear of the relegation zone, the United boss is adamant he remains the right man to turn things around.

“Yes, I’m bitterly disappointed that we haven’t played well enough, especially in the first half,” said Bruce. “But I’ll leave that (discussions about his future) to other people.

“You’re asking the wrong person. I’ll never, ever walk away from a challenge, and I think I’ve been in it long enough to have that respect.

“I understand that, especially watching the first half, we weren’t good enough, and at the end of the day, I take the responsibility for that because I pick the team. In hindsight, maybe (he got it wrong), but then again, we have been trying something different because over the last few weeks, we’ve struggled going forward.”

Bruce felt Fraser’s dismissal for two senseless fouls was justified, but insisted Madley should not have awarded Sheffield United’s penalty.

The referee initially opted not to award a foul, but changed his mind after he was instructed to check the incident on his pitch-side screen.

“The two yellow cards for Ryan Fraser, I agree with,” said Bruce. “But I can’t see the penalty, I can’t see it at all. I’ve looked back at it about five times now, and I think the referee made the right decision to start with.

"Arguably, it’s a foul against Feddy, and you can’t tell me that he’s intentionally handled the ball. The job of VAR is to tell the referee when there’s something clear and obvious. If that’s clear and obvious, then we might as well wrap up the whole of the VAR stuff and put it away."