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Opinion

Saturday was anything but a tactical triumph for Steve Bruce, though having said that…

1 month ago
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Steve Bruce and his players deserve all the credit for the 2-1 victory over Bournemouth.

As indeed they did for the win seven days earlier against West Ham at the London Stadium.

Just as they deserved all the criticism that came their way in the embarrassing defeats by Norwich and Leicester.

One thing I can’t though get away with after yesterday’s win at St James Park, is when journalists are claiming it as some kind of tactical triumph for Steve Bruce.

In that respect (tactics), all that I see happening is Newcastle defending and defending so deep, then when the ball occasionally breaks our way, hoping that Almiron and especially Saint-Maximin, can sprint up the other end and do something.

Other than that, what were Newcastle trying to do against Bournemouth in that first half?

The only other tactic I saw was long aimless balls up to a very isolated Joelinton, who was hopelessly outnumbered and lost possession as he was up against it.

In contrast, the Cherries passed it around, looked good on the ball, often penetrating Newcastle’s midfield and defensive lines.

They should have already been ahead when their brilliantly worked corner was converted on 14 minutes.

The next 25 minutes or so saw the visitors dominate apart from the odd NUFC break, Bournemouth could and should have gone further ahead in that period and if they had, there would have been no coming back for Newcastle.

These Steve Bruce tactics weren’t working, whatever they were.

The game of course was turned around in a ten minute period either side of half-time.

A goal on 42 minutes when Saint-Maximin’s shot was fortuitously deflected and ended up as a perfect cross for Yedlin who appeared from nowhere.

Then on 52 minutes a series of fortunate deflections ended up with Ciaran Clark totally missing his kick but the faintest of touches deceiving the keeper and the ball trickling into the net.

Most definitely 10 out of 10 for player commitment and ambition in gambling on the ball possibly falling…but tactics?

After that of course it was a very different game.

Bournemouth had to really press for the equaliser and Newcastle could defend even deeper BUT when possession was turned over, there was now far more open space for ASM and Almiron to run into AND Joelinton wasn’t quite so hopelessly outnumbered as he’d  previously been. This allowed the Brazilian to get into the game  lot more, hold the ball up well and even get some goalscoring opportunities!

To claim that it was Steve Bruce tactics that decided the game is nonsensical, in my opinion.

Two other Steve Bruce factors though played a massive part.

He is proving himself to be a lucky manager so far for Newcastle, the home draws against Watford, Brighton and Wolves were undeserved and a lot down to luck, whilst against Bournemouth the luck went Newcastle’s and Bruce’s way at crucial times.

The other Steve Bruce factor at work, is that the team are playing for him.

In matches such as Norwich and Brighton this didn’t look the case, some players certainly not giving it 100%.

Whatever the reasons back then, the players are definitely now giving it 100% for the head coach and that is  huge positive.

A very good tactical manager is a massive boost but equally important is the team responding to their manager/head coach in terms of effort and commitment.

Naturally you hope/assume it is for the fans as well but in the past we have so many times seen the players go missing for a number of previous managers.

So we roll on and whilst I don’t expect any tactical master classes from Steve Bruce, I am heartened by the fact that the players do seem to like him and want to do their best to keep him in the job.

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