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The Telegraph

Callum Wilson interview: ‘It was a blessing not having fans in during our bad run – the booing doesn’t help’

Newcastle United is not an easy club to play for when things are going badly and Callum Wilson has not enjoyed his first season in black and white stripes as much as he thought he would. It is to his credit that he can admit as much. Wilson is not looking for excuses to explain what has gone wrong and neither does he want any sympathy for the problems they have overcome. He knows the team’s league position is not good enough and insists the supporters have had every reason to be frustrated, but he is not the only player who feels manager Steve Bruce has been unfairly maligned. Bruce was booed by sections of the crowd after Newcastle’s 1-0 win over Sheffield United, even though that result made it four wins from their last seven games. He heard it and was stung. So, too, were the players. It was the first time Bruce has been on the receiving end of such direct abuse, but it has been evident on social media all season. In fact, it has been a constant since he was appointed in July 2019. Wilson, though, insists he does not deserve to take all the blame for a miserable winter that saw Newcastle win just two out of 22 games and drop to within two points of the bottom three. In fact, he believes he prevented a perilous situation turning into a catastrophic one, even though 95% of supporters wanted Bruce to be sacked in March, according to a poll in the Newcastle Chronicle. “The manager was really good in that period,” Wilson explained. “He was just himself, kept smiling. He had to try and pick the best side that he could with the players we had out and keep going. “He gave us a lot of encouragement. He’s a really good man manager so when things aren’t going great, when the lads are low on confidence, he was in there boosting them up and got us all pulling in the right direction. That’s what you want from a manager really. “It was really difficult for him, that period, it was a bad run, there is no hiding from that. “I think with fans in the stadium then [in the winter], it would have been even more difficult. It was probably best for us, at that time, there weren’t fans inside the stadium because it was hard enough without the extra demands they would have made.