The mood was toxic, the messages brutal and the verdicts damning.

Newcastle had just been thrashed 5-0 at Leicester, playing more than an hour with ten men after Isaac Hayden's first half dismissal.

Steve Bruce had experimented with a more attacking formation than he'd adopted in his first few games at Magpies boss.

But against a rampant home side and with the visitors undermanned for so long, the gameplan backfired horribly.

Bruce launched an X-rated tirade against his players in the away dressing room afterwards but that was nothing to some of the posts on social media in the hours after a result which had plunged the Geordies to the foot of the table.

Bruce during his side's win at Bournemouth during the week

“We'll be lucky to reach double figures,” said a fan.

“Relegated by January,” proclaimed another.

“Bruce is hopelessly out of his depth. He needs sacking – NOW! ” was the verdict of one feisty doom-merchant.

“If there's a worse team in the Premier League, I've not seen it,” claimed someone else.

Steve Bruce endured a difficult start as Newcastle boss when Leicester handed his side a 5-0 thumping

Not everyone was quite so harsh but if a straw poll had been taken among the Toon Army at the end of September, most fans would have tipped the Magpies for relegation or at best, a frenzied fight for survival.

No-one, absolutely no-one, would have claimed that with seven games left, Newcastle would be 12 points clear of the drop zone.

OK, they lost badly at the hands of FA Cup holders Manchester City on Sunday when Bruce quite possibly got his tactics wrong in reverting to a five man backline – a system he himself acknowledged back in March had outstayed its purpose.

But at least he embraced the Cup competitions, never once using the excuse that they might undermine league form.

But the former Sunderland manager has steered the ship and kept Newcastle well clear of the relegation battle

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He was right. Newcastle's results did not suffer because they were still involved in knockout football.

And yet there are still plenty of Toon followers out there who insist that Bruce is not the right manager and if the Saudi takeover eventually goes ahead, he should be sacked at the end of the season and replaced by a more high-profile individual.

Someone capable of attracting big name, playing a more attacking brand of football and restoring Newcastle to their place among the Premier League elite.

Quite frankly, it's an insult to Bruce, a manager whose CV is much better than most people assume.

Now with the club on the verge of a £300m Saudi Arabian takeover, talk of Bruce leaving St James' Park is rife again

Fans of Birmingham, Hull and probably even Sunderland, would have him back tomorrow. Former Black Cats' chairman Ellis Short privately admitted his worst mistake at the Stadium of Light was getitng rid of Bruce.

It's true Aston Villa fans do not look back at his tenure too fondly but let's face it, he took over a club which looked in terminal decline and only a heartbreaking Play-off defeat at Wembley prevented him adding yet another promotion to his impressive tally.

And what about the accusation that he couldn't attract top names to Newcastle?

Well, it's fair to say that in Spain, Germany or Italy, he's not as well known as Rafa Benitez or Mauricio Pocchetino.

Former Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino has been linked with the post

But I'm sure Toon fans wouldn't complain too much if he bought players as good as Andy Robertson, John McGinn or Harry Maguire – three players he snapped up at Hull and Villa for less than £15m combined.

Victory at Bournemouth tonight would leave Newcastle on course for their best top flight finish since Alan Pardew took them to fifth place eight years ago.

Is he better than Rafa? It's an irrelevant argument. Would he do a better job than Pochettino next season? Who knows?

What is certain is that Bruce has fared better than anyone dared imagine ten months ago when he inherited a club still in shock at Benitez' exit.

But Bruce deserves the chance to show he is the right man for the job

Despite being one of the countrys most experienced managers, the 59-year-old has never been in charge of a club with a realistic prospect of challenging the top six at the start of the season.

If Newcastle are under new owners, expectations will soar and the club will be upwardly mobile again.

He deserves the chance to prove that not only is he pretty good at salvage jobs, he can compete at the elite end of football too.