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Opinion

Danny Murphy once again proves it is all guesswork with Newcastle United expert ‘knowledge’

1 month ago
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Danny Murphy doesn’t know much about Newcastle United.

You might think why should he, after all he has no connection whatsoever to NUFC.

The problem is though that he does pretend to know what he is talking about.

Like pretty much all of the pundits, they base their knowledge on seeing the basic highlights of matches on TV.

They then add that to their pre-conceptions and flawed arguments that constantly flow around the vast majority of hopeless pundits, then out of that comes ‘expert’ opinion…

The pattern this season for Danny Murphy and the rest of them has been to stay silent the nine times when Newcastle have lost or drawn.

However, on the four occasions where Newcastle have won a match, the pundits are clambering over each other to say that this is proof of how great a manager (head coach) Steve Bruce is and how this proves all Newcastle fans wrong.

The reality is that Newcastle fans have displayed zero anti-Steve Bruce feelings at matches, even though overwhelmingly they couldn’t believe that yet again Mike Ashley was reverting to his usual model of appointing somebody desperate from the lower divisions, that no other Premier League club would have appointed.

To ‘prove’ his point this time, Danny Murphy points to Steve Bruce’s tactical nous and in particular is expert handling of Jonjo Shelvey, as compared to Rafa Benitez who didn’t appreciate or expertly handle Jonjo Shelvey (according to Danny Murphy).

Danny Murphy declaring about Bruce/Shelvey: ‘He has made some very, very cute tactical changes in various games which I have seen. One of the other factors which I think some people won’t agree…Jonjo Shelvey is hugely important to that team…he is a wonderful footballer and he gives them so much creativity. He (Shelvey) has been great during these last few games.’

The story of Jonjo Shelvey’s (and Steve Bruce’s) season is in reality a little different to what Danny Murphy has seen in a couple of clips on TV.

Steve Bruce started the season with a disastrous formation where he played three central midfielders so he could accommodate Shelvey, Newcastle losing to a near Arsenal second team without making the visiting keeper have a proper save to make, then got hammered at Norwich, with Shelvey disappearing most of the game.

Bruce then in desperation tore up his tactics and reverted to Rafa’s 5-2-3/5-2-2-1 and Newcastle went and beat Spurs, with Shelvey dropped.

In Sean Longstaff’s absence, Jonjo Shelvey then found himself back in the team for the defeat at Liverpool and very lucky home draw against Brighton, where the midfielder was really poor again.

The midfielder then dropped again, until in Sean Longstaff’s absence again, Bruce was forced to bring Shelvey back in for the West Ham match as Matty Longstaff struggled in the two games after the Man Utd game.

Jonjo Shelvey was rightfully praised as he played well at West Ham but then on Saturday he was back to poor to average, having very little influence on the Bournemouth game.

That is pretty much the history of Shelvey’s career, flattering to deceive. In a number of games, especially ones like West Ham where he was given so much time on the ball, his passing can take teams apart. However, part from the final game (4-0 at Fulham) of last season, you have to go back to that 8-10 game run late in the 2017/18 season for when he last played well.

It was the same for him at Liverpool and at Swansea, playing well in a minority of games but mostly poor to average.

A bit like Danny Murphy’s punditry!

Reality is that Newcastle have ridden their luck a lot this season and whilst the players have been largely committed, they have really struggled to create chances, never mind score goals.

The West Ham game was an improvement against a struggling team with a poor defence and shocking keeper, whilst Newcastle were really poor in the first half against Bournemouth but did well in the second-half as the game opened up following the two fortunate goals that eventually gave us the victory.

The £80m spent on the front trio has brought in some good players and pace but we are still yet to see whether they can regularly supply goals and assists.

That is Steve Bruce’s biggest challenge and this season won’t depend on how Jonjo Shelvey plays, hopefully.

Danny Murphy speaking to Talksport:

“He (Steve Bruce) is doing better than alright.

“He went into a situation where many wouldn’t.

“He knew a lot of them wouldn’t want him but he loves the club, he knows what it’s about, he knows what the Premier League is about, he has been around for a long time, goes a long way in football management.

“When you have got that type of intensity which you always have at St James Park, I think when he lost Perez and Rondon there were a lot of people who thought that he’s got no chance.

“What he has done, is with the players he has got, he has found a way of winning games.

“He has worked damn hard at set-plays, you can see that.

“He has made some very, very cute tactical changes in various games which I have seen.

“One of the other factors which I think some people won’t agree…Jonjo Shelvey is hugely important to that team.

“Although he is not the most athletic in the world and there’s talk of ill-discipline, which we have seen, he is a wonderful footballer and he gives them so much creativity.

“He (Shelvey) has been great during these last few games.

“Steve Bruce is not scared to make big decisions.

“When Rafa had a couple of bad spells when the team wasn’t winning and Shelvey wasn’t in (the team), I always thought that he was the one who could change things, but Rafa wasn’t a big fan.”

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