Steve Bruce pondered slightly before choosing the right words, but was happy to spell out what his biggest task is at Newcastle United.

Perhaps it had already been laid bare on Saturday night against Manchester United as Newcastle attempted to stretch towards three points before being left with nothing but a heavy home defeat.

Bruce is 18 months into the job on Tyneside but has been in the very position he finds himself right now a few times before - looking to bounce back from a defeat.

After a week of some stinging content on social media, Bruce has been back to work with his players at Benton, but he was keen to address the aftermath of the 4-1 reverse against the Red Devils.

Bruce told the Chronicle: "I understand the criticism, rightly so. Man United probably deserved to win 4-1.

"It is the manner of it all that sticks with you - but let's be fair we were four minutes away from a draw and were done on a counter attack against Man U.

"I know they lost 6-1 the week before but we need to have a reality check on it.

"We've played five games and I think two of them were against teams that will finish in the top four in Man U and Tottenham."

For all the disappointment that followed after the Man United defeat, the Magpies could still swoop back into the top 10 of the Premier League with a good result at Wolves.

Jamaal Lascelles is not happy following a tackle on Allan Saint-Maximin during Newcastle United's defeat against Manchester United
Jamaal Lascelles is not happy following a tackle on Allan Saint-Maximin during Newcastle United's defeat against Manchester United

As it stands, they are unbeaten on the road this season with a good (albeit a fortunate one) point at Spurs and a win at West Ham on the opening night of the campaign.

Bruce reflected: "Yes, we're disappointed with it but how good does the result against West Ham look now?

"They were poor on the opening day now all of a sudden they have had results.

"We were disappointed by the way we played against Brighton too but overall we've played five games, two of them were against the best in Europe.

"So we will accept criticism and understand it because of the manner of defeat."

Eight of Newcastle's nine goals against have been conceded at home this season but Bruce spoke openly about his biggest task as boss.

He added: "Now we try to find the balance of being capable of mounting attacks but also being difficult to beat and play against.

"And after a result like Man United, I understand it all.

"However, we try to get that balance right of being an attacking force which last week it didn't work.

"We will keep bashing away it."

Defeat at Wolves ahead of next week's home game against Premier League table toppers Everton would well and truly crank up the pressure on both Bruce and the powers that be at St James' Park.

His big selection poser will be whether to start with either Ryan Fraser or Miguel Almiron at Wolves or continue to keep faith with £40million striker Joelinton.

Callum Wilson will be desperate to get his miss against Man United out of his system but who will provide the ammunition?

Bruce said: "We brought in two or three players at the top end of the pitch to try to get that balance right between an attacking side and defensively get it right.

"And there lies my biggest challenge here.

"It's doing that right, because when we do that (attack) slightly we become too easily to play against the other way.

"That is the big raging debate I have to get right - the balance. If I possibly can."