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Opinion

Steve Bruce confirms Newcastle United playing style for new season but can/will it work?

1 year ago
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In the past Steve Bruce has made a number of comments claiming he is not really into tactics.

The much travelled (within England) manager/head coach seeing his strengths as more a case of man-management.

The NUFC Head Coach happy as well to delegate much of the coaching/training regime to his off the pitch team.

Nothing intrinsically wrong with all that and of course most of us experienced our greatest years watching Newcastle United with Kevin Keegan in charge.

Somebody who had a playing side that he wanted his team to produce but leaving the training pitch planning to Derek Fazackerley and others.

Keegan was brilliant with his players and brought in characters who bought into what he wanted to do, wonderful times.

Now we have Steve Bruce.

After Tuesday’s 3-1 win at Hibs where Newcastle were in the ascendancy most of the game and dominated attacking wise against limited opposition, Steve Bruce was asked by the Chronicle if this attacking style was what we could expect to see when the Premier League kicks off:

“That is the way we are going to play.

“We are going to try and play.

“I have always tried that and the system suits us.

“It puts us with two at the top end of the pitch, which gives you a chance.”

Steve Bruce’s Premier League record shows:

Matches 392

Wins 110

Draws 109

Losses 173

Goals For 402

Goals Against 515

Also useful to look at this table which compares Bruce to previous managers/head coaches at NUFC when it comes to overall Premier League records:

As you can see, Bruce’s claims of always trying to play attacking football aren’t backed up by his 392 previous games record.

Only 1.03 goal(s) per game scored on average.

A win ratio of only 28% is terrible as well, as has been widely noted. Only he and Bryan Robson of managers with 250 PL games or more have a win ratio of less than 30%.

The thing is though, that for all Steve Bruce has a terrible record as a Premier League boss, far worse than Kinnear, McClaren, Pardew and Allardyce…just look at the goals against column.

A lot worse than Rafa Benitez of course and the attack-minded Kevin Keegan BUT when it comes to not conceding goals, very surprisingly he is significantly better than McClaren, JFK, Pardew and even Allardyce!

So, if Steve Bruce has any major strength, it is actually his team preventing goals, not scoring them.

The question is then, will the reality be that we do see the NUFC Head Coach commit to this attacking style as he claims and if so, will it prove a success?

Or will he revert to his normal more cautious style as evidence by these last two decades?

If there had been a proper pre-season of quantity and quality summer signings brought in early and integrated, then who knows.

As it stands though, with six days to go of the window, only one signing so far, a number of key players have left along with the manager, then a head coach (not manager) belatedly brought in.

If Steve Bruce did improve on Rafa’s last two seasons then it would indeed be a creditable performance, even if we do see significant net investment now, following Benitez being starved of any in his time at NUFC.

Hopefully it is not a portent of what is to come but Steve Bruce’s very first Premier League game as a manager was a 2-0 defeat to Arsenal on 18 August 2002.

Just short of 17  years later his 393rd and first with Newcastle United is against the same opponents, in nine days time we will have a far better idea of what lies ahead, the transfer window having closed and the first 90 minutes of Steve Bruce’s management/head coaching behind us.

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