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Steve Bruce defends boring tactics following criticism after beating Sheffield United 2-0

2 years ago

Steve Bruce watched on as his team won 2-0 at Bramall Lane.

Goals on 15 (Allan Saint-Maximin) and 70 minutes (Jonjo Shelvey) took the points back to Tyneside.

Newcastle United must be pretty much the only club that had got four months into the season and avoided any real VAR controversy, that all changed on Thursday night.

With the hosts pressing for the equaliser, a long ball was flicked on by Andy Carroll and the linesman’s flag went up for offside.

As everybody pretty much stopped, Jonjo Shelvey and the referee kept on going. The Newcastle midfielder jogging onto the Carroll flick and jogging on from the halfway line with only the ref for company. Henderson in the home goal making no real effort to stop it and from his body language was simply annoyed that Shelvey was time wasting by carrying on playing.

Play to the whistle though and a VAR check showed Carroll had been clearly onside so 2-0 and three points confirmed.

Steve Bruce quite rightly making no apologies for taking that all day; ‘Fair play to the referee to not stop it and it is a decision that has gone our way. At the end of the day it was the right decision and it is tiny margins – Today we got one.’

As for the style of play, Newcastle remained camped around their box for 90 minutes, even getting into the opposition half was a rare adventure.

Up against a newly promoted team and having only 27% possession, one corner and four efforts on target (I can’t remember the other two) isn’t total football but on this occasion it did get the job done, thanks in the main to a brilliant Martin Dubravka display and poor finishing.

Asked about the negative boring tactics after the final whistle, Steve Bruce was also unapologetic: “We play on the counter and it suits the players we have, it suits us and we are getting results.”

Results are pretty much everything in football and we will take this all day.

However, this isn’t really a great long-term plan, as luck will not often go our way like it did this time when defending for 90 minutes.

Steve Bruce after winning 2-0 at Sheffield United:

“We play on the counter and it suits the players we have, it suits us and we are getting results.

“I was delighted with the spirit of the players.

“To come here has never been easy over a number of years.

“Chris Wilder has done a remarkable job.

“Down the line we are going to have a few (VAR decisions) that will go against us and I have to say well done to Jonjo for keeping on going.

“If that is an opportunity the linesman keeps his flag down because it looked borderline.

“Maybe he could have kept the flag down and checked later…ultimately it was the correct decision.

“The referee will not blow the whistle and he has done that.

“Usually it is clear and obvious for the linesman to put his flag up but let’s remind everyone it was the second goal, which wasn’t important anyway.

“Fair play to the referee to not stop it and it is a decision that has gone our way.

“At the end of the day it was the right decision and it is tiny margins – Today we got one.

“Allan Saint-Maximin finally got a goal. never thought he would get it from a header…

“I am pleased with him and we all know the remarkable ability he has, what a header.

“He has been carrying an ankle injury which isn’t easy but he’s rolled his sleeves up and got a reward tonight.

“Andy Carroll can be crucial for us.

“It is pretty evident and I think everyone can see that he needs games but he has got through 65 minutes.

“What their (Sheffield United’s) centre-halves dish out is right up Andy’s street so it was a decision that worked, it also gave Joelinton a little rest.”

“Martin Dubravka has pulled off some great saves and kept us in the game at crucial time times.

“Can we get players in January that can make us better?

“I have to be patient but if there are any I will bang down the door, (but) I’m delighted with the squad we have.”

Stats from BBC Sport:

Sheffield United 0 Newcastle 2  – Thursday 5 December 7.30pm


Newcastle United:

Saint-Maximin 15, Shelvey 70

Possession was Sheff Utd 73%, Newcastle 27%

Total shots were Sheff Utd 13, Newcastle 6

Shots on target were Sheff Utd 6, Newcastle 4

Corners were Sheff Utd 8, Newcastle 1

Crowd: 30,409 (2,900 Newcastle)

Referee: Stuart Attwell

Newcastle team v Sheffield Utd:

Dubravka, Manquillo, Fernandez, Dummett, Clark, Willems, Hayden, Shelvey, Saint-Maximin (Atsu 81), Almiron (Krafth 88), Carroll (Joelinton 72)

Unused Subs

Darlow, Schar, Sean Longstaff, Gayle

(Sheffield United 0 Newcastle 2 – Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Thursday’s win – Read HERE)

(Chris Wilder blames VAR and Steve Bruce’s super negative tactics for defeat at Bramall Lane – Read HERE)

(3 Positives and 3 Negatives from Sheffield United 0 Newcastle 2 – Read HERE)

(Sheffield United 0 Newcastle 2 – Watch official match highlights and both goals here! – Read HERE)

(Sheffield United 0 Newcastle 2 – Match ratings and comments on all NUFC players – Read HERE)


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