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Steve Bruce admits tactics not working – Real shock, especially when he explains what those tactics were

12 months ago
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It takes guts for a manager, or a head coach even, to admit that his tactics are rubbish and not working, so fair play to Steve Bruce after the shambles so far this season.

Particularly so after the embarrassing display on Saturday against Brighton.

The only problem being when he actually said what these tactics had been of his, that weren’t working.

Steve Bruce saying that the big problem has been Newcastle playing far too much on the ‘front foot’, going on the attack too much, leaving gaps and seeing his team opened up too easily.

Bruce’s prime exhibit for these failing too attacking tactics, being the first half on Saturday.

Talk about confusing.

Newcastle fans had sat through the most one-sided 45 minutes, where Newcastle had defended so deep, the midfield sitting right back on toes of the defence, Joelinton more isolated than ever before. Yet Steve Bruce says that the big problem is that Newcastle United are trying to be too attacking.

What can you say to something like that, which is so removed from reality, as to be literally on another planet.

The possession stats this season for Newcastle are:

Arsenal (H) 38% possession

Norwich (A) 37% possession

Tottenham (A) 20% possession

Leicester (H) 32% possession

Watford (H) 49% possession

Liverpool (A) 25% possession

Brighton (H) 29% possession

An average of 32% and if you wanted to drill down into just the games against the relegation rivals (Watford, Norwich and Brighton), two of which were at home, then it was 38% on average in that trio of games.

Possession isn’t always everything I hear you cry. Quite right, sometimes you get real extremes such as Leicester in their title winning year, they rarely had the majority of possession but had brilliant counter-attacking tactic that meant they did usually end up with most chances created and indeed most goals.

On that subject, here are a few more stats on Newcastle United this season from the official Premier League site:

Second lowest shots (19) on target

Second lowest number of passes (1,934)

Second lowest number of successful through balls (3)

If I had to describe Newcastle United’s tactics/formation/style this season it would be ultra-defensive, everybody back, midfield as deep as possible, hope the other team doesn’t score as they constantly press, pray for a goal from somewhere on one of the very few occasions Newcastle get in the opposition box.

The only ‘front foot’ I have seen from Steve Bruce so far is the one he puts in his mouth, when trying to claim that Newcastle have tried to attack this season.

Steve Bruce:

“In the first half in particular (against Brighton) we weren’t good enough and left ourselves open.

“It’s pretty evident to me after being here eight weeks of why we can’t open up, if we do that, we’re going to find it a struggle like we did in the first half, it wasn’t until we closed shop a little bit, even at home, that maybe got us a point.”

Quite incredible that this is how this joker sees the Brighton match.

In fact it was the absolute opposite, only late on when Allan Saint-Maximin came on and Newcastle tried to attack, did they look a bit more secure at the back, due to the ball being up the other end.

Steve Bruce:

“We found it a struggle and we will find it a struggle.

“You learn something and you try something.

“The vast majority (of Newcastle’s players) have played a certain way for a good two or three years and I can understand that.

“What I have learnt today (against Brighton) is that we can’t leave ourselves open and try and get after teams because people will play through us.

“That’s what I’ve learnt. There’s a certain way the whole group has played and I can understand why.”

It is hilarious. Steve Bruce honestly wants us to believe that these past six or seven weeks, he has been trying to get this team on the attack all of the time.

Even worse really, is that he appears to be making out that this is somehow Rafa’s fault, a team so used to defending all of the time, that it has proved incapable for he, the new exciting tactics Steve Bruce, has found it impossible to get these overly defensively minded players to thrive under his enterprising style.

Rafa Benitez did at times go to extremes when playing a team such as Manchester City BUT we never saw anything like what happened on Saturday against a very average Brighton, or indeed away at Norwich who have a shocking defence that is crying out to be put under pressure.

I hold my hands up to the fact that I thought Steve Bruce was hopeless before we were landed with him but on top of that, is he as much of a chancer as he appears to be making out?

Does he really have no idea of what he is doing and just like the likes of Carver, McClaren, Pardew and JFK, just says anything to try and deflect from how clueless he is, in the hope that nobody will ever bother examining what he actually said.

After half an hour on Saturday, no Newcastle player had made more completed passes than any of the 11 Brighton players.

By the final whistle, Newcastle had made the fewest touches in the opposition box (76) this season, than any other Premier League club.

Yet Steve Bruce says that the big problem is that Newcastle are attacking too much and need to defend a lot more.

I dread to think just how bad Sunday at Leicester is going to be, now Steve Bruce has belatedly ditched our all out attack policy…

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