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Opinion

Lee Bowyer makes strange claims on Steve Bruce impact at Newcastle United

2 weeks ago
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Lee Bowyer was one of Sir Bobby Robson’s more surprising signings in his time at Newcastle United.

Fans of course backed Sir Bobby’s judgement on pretty much everything but Bowyer had always seemed to go out of his way to try and wind up Newcastle fans when at Leeds, plus of course he also had troubles off the pitch.

One thing though you couldn’t deny when he was at Leeds was that he was that elusive player that all clubs like to have midfielders who regularly score goals Lee Bowyer scoring on average once every five matches when with the Yorkshire club.

With Newcastle, I never thought his heart was really in it and six goals in 79 appearances reflects that. His (and Dyer’s) disgraceful selfish actions that sabotaged the 2004/05 season meant there was no going back for Lee Bowyer with the fans. With realistic ambitions of winning both the FA Cup and/or UEFA Cup, the season was blown off course when the pair were sent off for fighting each other on 2 April 2005 against Villa, within 15 days Newcastle were out of both the FA Cup (losing to Man Utd in semi) and UEFA Cup (losing to Sporting Lisbon in quarters).

With media appearances since retiring as a player, Lee Bowyer has at times wound Newcastle fans up further, including criticising them for failing to give John Carver and Steve McClaren better support (see below). Though Bowyer did claw back some small amount of credibility when taking Charlton up last season at the expense of Sunderland.

Now he (Lee Bowyer) has been talking about Steve Bruce supposedly having got undeserved stick from Newcastle fans, bizarrely blaming this on an imaginary issue we all have with the fact Bruce used to manage the mackems.

Lee Bowyer describes how he believes Steve Bruce has turned things around: ‘He has gone from a back four to a back five. A bit like Sheffield United do. Solid, be difficult to beat and then you build from that. Steve Bruce has adapted and done well.’

I think Steve Bruce does deserve praise for his three wins from the 12 matches played but to claim this is down to some kind of tactical masterclass is embarrassingly stretching it.

Indeed, this season has seen Steve Bruce repeatedly chopping and changing his tactics and formation, often looking totally pointless when doing so.

Obviously it was Rafa Benitez who got the team drilled so effectively in playing five at the back and Steve Bruce kept that at the start of the season BUT changed from the 5-2-3/5-2-2-1 that had worked so well last season, especially the longer the season went on when Almiron arrived. Bruce instead going 5-3-2/5-3-1-1, a total mess as in playing three central midfielders he left Almiron and especially Joelinton totally isolated and took away any attacking threat.

After defeat to Arsenal and an embarrassing display and loss at Norwich, Steve Bruce reverted to Rafa’s 5-2-2-1 and Newcastle pulled off the win at Spurs.

Then for some reason Steve Bruce went 4-2-3-1 at Leicester and we had another humiliation, not a single corner or shot on target and it could have been worse than the 5-0 scoreline.

The very next game it was back to Rafa’ 5-2-2-1 and Newcastle beat Man Utd.

The same formation of course on Saturday in the 3-2 win at West Ham.

I would argue that Steve Bruce messing around with tactics/formation has cost Newcastle points this season, not added any. Bruce keeps saying how little time  he has had to work with the team/squad so in that case, why didn’t he just kick of the season and ply these early months in system that the players were used to and  had indeed thrived in as last season progressed?

Lee Bowyer speaking on Talksport – 21 September 2015:

“It just shows you that the criticism John Carver was getting last year was unjustified – you can only work with the squad you have got.

“Steve McClaren has bought in some of his own players and one or two of them do look ok – but to bring in more foreign players  when you already have loads there… it is a tough league to hit running and not a lot of players do get it.

“It is just a tough time for Newcastle at the moment but I do think that McClaren will get it right in the end.

“Hopefully the crowd will stay behind them because they will play a big part in their success this season.”

Lee Bowyer speaking to Sky Sports:

“It was a no win situation for Steve Bruce at the beginning because he was working at Sunderland before.

“I’m glad now that he has the wins (three in 12 games) under his belt.

“It is not easy places where he has gone (Spurs and West Ham) and got results.

“I am delighted for him because it’s tough.

“I know it (St James Park) is a tough place to go and play.

“He was getting a bit of stick at the beginning but hopefully now, he gets the praise that he deserves.

“He has worked from the back.

“He has gone from a back four to a back five.

“A bit like Sheffield United do.

“Solid, be difficult to beat and then you build from that.

“Steve Bruce has adapted and done well.”

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