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If Steve Bruce does make this tactical switch he really will have lost the plot at Newcastle

2 years ago
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When he was at Sunderland, Steve Bruce was asked at a press conference about a certain formation and how his team would ideally be set out and he famously/infamously replied: ‘I’m not really into tactics.’

Whenever this gets brought up at various times his critics will use it to suggest how clueless he is, whilst those close to him, particularly journalists, will claim it was just a throw away line and Steve Bruce has just as much tactical nous as most other top managers.

Fair to say that the jury is still out on that one at Newcastle United.

Most fans believe they know the final verdict BUT accept it is only seven games and seven weeks into the season, so will give it a little more time before deciding for sure.

Of course, last weekend didn’t do Bruce any favours.

This season, despite claiming he would always on the front foot and playing entertaining and attractive football, instead it has been the most negative defensive football, with an average of only 32% possession per game . Yet after last Saturday when his Newcastle team were even more defensive at home to Brighton(!) and only had 29% possession, Steve Bruce bizarrely claimed that this season the big problem had been he’d played too much attacking football and the team had been left open at the back. Something that Bruce indicated was now going to change.

Talk about doing your head in. Was this final proof that as he said almost a decade ago ‘I’m not really into tactics’, he really meant it and indeed hasn’t got a Scooby?

Well, there is  some quite strong evidence already this season.

A number of players on Saturday had  to tell the Head Coach that the tactics and formation weren’t working before he changed anything. It wasn’t great once he changed it but at least it went from laughable to just not great.

To be honest, in the relegation battles against Watford and Norwich, players should have done the same but maybe it has taken until now for them to finally say enough is enough. We of course had that total chaos in the first game of the season when so many players had no idea where they were playing when Steve Bruce made his subs and ended up conceding the winning goal whilst that was going on.

I must admit that I am already of the opinion that Rafa’s replacement is all over the place, his daft idea of Shelvey being his star player and building the team around him, dismally bombed. Steve Bruce playing three in midfield so Shelvey wouldn’t be so exposed in terms of poor workrate and mobility, only for it to leave Joelinton totally isolated.

Steve Bruce was forced to quickly drop that idea but apart from all out defence, it is difficult to define any other great tactical plan, or indeed any tactical plan.

Miguel Almiron has been the biggest victim though.

When you think he arrived on 31 January and despite stepping up from the MLS, Rafa Benitez had him integrated into the team with a week or two playing great football, linking so well with Perez and Rondon, Almiron the key reason for me why we went from 21 goals and 24 points in the opening 25 PL games last season, to 21 goals and  21 points from the final 13 PL games once he made his debut.

Yes he didn’t get any goals of assists but Almiron totally changed our attacking threat as his running with the ball and unselfish play opened up play for others.

Contrast that to this season and you see the value of a good manager, Steve Bruce has totally wasted Almiron and got next to nothing out of him. Claims of the training sessions being so poor start to ring true.

Ahead of Sunday, reports have claimed that Steve Bruce is going to drop Almiron, if he does do this then it will be the most stupid thing he has done so far, against some pretty strong competition.

We need to get Almiron, Joelinton and Saint-Maximin on the pitch together ASAP and as often as possible, they are our only real chance of this season not being a total disaster.

The media want to make Almiron a scapegoat for the poor football and results but he just needs better guidance and a better more attacking formation around him.

If Steve Bruce plays Allan Saint-Maximin but plays Atsu ahead of Almiron on Sunday then he really has lost the plot.

Similarly, it has also been claimed that Bruce is thinking of switching Fabian Schar into midfield.

This would be a similar disaster because Schar is a very good defender who then makes a real impact when stepping out of defence and gong forward. It is partly the element of surprise and becoming an extra attacking/creative threat that makes him so good. If played in midfield then he would lose that and older fans will remember how some would say this about Philippe Albert and how he could play in midfield but that wasn’t the case, he was a defender who could burst forward, not a midfielder.

Leicester v Newcastle, we await the Steve Bruce tactical masterclass…

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