Get your daily update and weekly newsletter by signing up today!


The only surprise is that any Newcastle United fan was surprised…

11 months ago

I’m amazed that any Newcastle United fan was surprised by what happened at Villa Park last night.

However, there seem to be plenty of them/you about.

It appears no shortage of people had swallowed the nonsense the newspapers, especially local ones, had come out with in recent weeks.

Much had been made of the recent run of games and how well Newcastle United had supposedly played.

United having picked up 10 points from a possible 15 before the Villa game.

There was a total and wilful agenda of refusing to accept that you can get short runs of positive results without actually playing that well.

Newcastle 1 Man Utd 0 – NUFC scored with their only serious effort on target, against a seriously weakened opposition missing many key players.

Chelsea 1 Newcastle 0 – This was heralded as a close and almost unlucky defeat, despite United having not a single effort on goal or corner, Dubravka making some great saves and loads of last ditch challenges/blocks.

Newcastle 1 Wolves 1 – Only two shots on target and one of them the goal, Wolves created far more clear chances and should have won, definitely a fortunate point.

West Ham 2 Newcastle 3 – The Hammers are woeful (six defeats and two draws in last eight games now), Newcastle played well in the first half against poor opposition, the reserve keeper absolutely useless and let in two soft goals. Steve Bruce then going so defensive at 3-0 and almost gifting a point as West Ham were invited forward and scored twice.

Newcastle 2 Bournemouth 1 – A total fluke that NUFC weren’t losing by two or three at the break, instead getting a lucky deflection that put the ball in the path of Yedlin who’d gambled. A similar story with the winner where a couple of deflections led to Clark swinging at the ball and possibly even missing it altogether as it trickled in.

All credit to our players for grafting and gambling at times on their own initiative but hand on heart, I think we deserved four or five points at best from those games performances – a win at West Ham, a draw against Man Utd and maybe a draw against Bournemouth with the second half display after they failed to kill us off.

You can enjoy wins/positive results BUT also accept that the team didn’t play particularly well and/or carried the luck.

The truth is, Newcastle never look like scoring except on very rare occasions and it was the same last night. To be honest, we probably created more chances against Villa than all but one or two games this season, though I think I counted three were straight at their keeper.

I don’t see any real improvement in tactics or general play, in terms of how Newcastle are supposed to be trying to score a goal and win games.

Game after game it is a case of defend and defend so deep, then give the ball to Allan Saint-Maximin and expect him to run the length of the pitch and score. Or get us close enough to their box to put a free-kick in. That is the extent of our attacking plan.

What else are the tactics to try and create chances? I can’t see it. I don’t see any plan on how the front trio, central midfielders and wing-backs are supposed to work together.

Yet I can see a plan with pretty much all of our opponents, whether Aston Villa last night, Bournemouth and Wolves in recent weeks, even the likes of Watford, Brighton and Norwich all had a clear strategy of how they were trying to play. Brighton and Watford failed to beat NUFC at SJP but only because they wasted chance after chance.

Actually, the only other two teams that I have seen looking clueless were Man Utd and West Ham, where they had their own internal issues and Newcastle caught them at a good time.

It isn’t a hopeless situation but the luck couldn’t last, thinking the ball falling kindly for defenders inside the box was some kind of a cunning plan that could bring lasting success.

What on earth is the Steve Bruce plan with out front trio?

You can’t just blame them as individuals and their failed/ non-existent link-up play if Bruce sends them out yet again with the same plan that isn’t working.

The head coach has to change personnel and/or tactics because it is failing and the cracks have been papered over thanks to luck falling Newcastle’s way.

The ridiculously overly negative tactics have to stop.

Yes Rafa Benitez often adopted more defensive tactics BUT it was never as bad as this.

Under Rafa we didn’t defend so deep against everybody and whilst it wasn’t often Newcastle dominated possession the last few years, it was never a case of every week having as little as a third or so of the possession, even when playing the teams at the bottom.


If you would like to feature on The Mag, submit your article to [email protected]

Have your say

© 2020 The Mag. All Rights Reserved. Design & Build by Mediaworks