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Steve Bruce makes pledge to Newcastle fans ‘There will come a day when we are higher up the pitch’

11 months ago

Steve Bruce was predictably a happy man as he reflected on Newcastle’s point at home to the reigning champions.

Twice Manchester City went in front and twice Newcastle quickly replied.

Pep Guardiola no doubt furious that his players had went to sleep twice after dominating the match, holding a lead for only nine minutes in total in the game.

Manchester City dominated every single statistic apart the one that mattered, the visitors having 24 shots to Newcastle’s 6, 9 on target to 3, 77% possession to 23% and 10 corners to NUFC’s 1.

On goals though it was 2-2 (I can’t remember Newcastle having that third shot on target) and Steve Bruce loved it: ‘We have seen three quality goals and we have got two of them, so lovely to watch.’

As for playing style: Steve Bruce was asked about his ultra-negative tactics; ‘The team, I believe, is best suited to be set up the way we are. There will come a day when we are higher up the pitch.’

The thing is, you more or less accept it against Manchester City because they can take you apart, but Newcastle fans are left wondering why Steve Bruce uses the same so negative tactics against pretty much every team.

At Aston Villa, Newcastle only had 32% possession in the first half and the game was over in 36 minutes as the home side took advantage of NUFC gifting them domination and scored twice. It would have been the same if Man City had taken another of their clear cut chances but fortunately we had Martin Dubravka and luck on our side on Saturday.

The only times Newcastle have really showed any proper attacking intent for a sustained time, were the first 50 minutes against West Ham and the last 50 minutes against Bournemouth, in that latter game Newcastle got very lucky when the Cherries failed to properly punish NUFC, they should have been two or three up as they dominated the first half as the Magpies sat back.

The thing is, the negative tactics have worked against the ‘big six’ clubs, helped by some of them not reaching their usual heights this season, but they aren’t working against the so called lesser teams. Newcastle carrying a lot of luck with many of the points they have picked up in those games.

With Almiron bought for £20m in January and Steve Bruce allowed to bring in three strikers/attacking players in the summer, as well as two attacking wing-backs, I’m not sure what will change in the future for Bruce to get the team higher up the pitch.

Indeed, his record down the years has been as a very defensive manager, his teams scoring very few goals in the Premier League and hoping to keep out the opposition and sneak a goal. No problem up to a point if this works but I think fans just have to accept that Steve Bruce sets his team out very negatively and that isn’t going to change at Newcastle, no matter how much is spent on attacking  players.

Steve Bruce admits it is a problem for Almiron and Saint-Maximin with such negative tactics, he says they usually pick up the ball ’50 or 60 yards’ from goal but I think it is even worse than that, usually more like 80+ yards as they are usually very close to their own penalty area when getting possession.

This is where criticism of the pair and Joelinton is over the top, playing in such a restrictive system going forward.

Steve Bruce on Jonjo Shelvey’s impact after Newcastle 2 Manchester City 2:

“We put him back in for West Ham  – he scored and made one and he did very, very well.

“He played very, very well against Bournemouth.

“The whole team didn’t play well against Aston Villa and of course Jonjo always seems to me, is the one that is the enemy.

“So, I am delighted for him.

“There’s few people on the pitch that can score a goal like he did today.

“Or few on the pitch who can find a pass like he did today.

“And physically, his workrate and attitude to what we need, was good to see.”

Not defend so deep every match?

“The team, I believe, is best suited to be set up the way we are.

“There will come a day when we are higher up the pitch.

“It took Manchester City a wonder goal (from De Bruyne) for all the possession they had.

“We produced a bit of magic ourselves too, but of course we had to defend (most of the game) and I think the players were magnificent in their work.

“They have got a good attitude (but also) we have got that horrible one in us…we can be inconsistent.

“We had to run a million miles against a quality team and I was delighted with their attitude.

“I think the whole crowd, with Almiron, they sense it as much as he does.

“When he gets in front of goal they’re willing it in for him and last January, Almiron lifted this club.

“He was terrific and I inherited him in the summer and he’s a great lad.

“Almiron was outstanding and Saint-Maximin as well.

“The way that we play is difficult for them because we are 50 or 60 yards away from goal when they pick it up.

“I’m delighted for Miggy – he has got an assist, a great goal from Jetro (Willems).

“We have seen three quality goals and we have got two of them, so lovely to watch.

“We go up and down too easily, especially away from home, and we have to improve.

“Consistency is what we are striving for and we have to keep working at it and keep plodding away.”

Stats from BBC Sport:

Newcastle 2 Manchester City 2  – Saturday 30 November 12.30pm


Newcastle United:

Willems 25, Shelvey 88

Man City:

Sterling 22, De Bruyne 82

(Half-time stats in brackets)

Possession was Man City 77% (78%), Newcastle 23% (22%)

Total shots were Man City 24 (9), Newcastle 6 (3)

Shots on target were Man City 9 (4), Newcastle 3 (2)

Corners were Man City 10 (4), Newcastle 1 (1)

Crowd: 49,937 (3,200 Man City)

Referee: Chris Kavanagh

Newcastle team v Man City:

Dubravka, Manquillo, Fernandez, Dummett, Clark, Willems, Hayden, Shelvey, Saint-Maximin (Atsu 80), Almiron, Joelinton (Gayle 69)

Unused Subs

Darlow, Krafth, Matty Longstaff, Schar, Sean Longstaff

(Steve Bruce makes unnecessary Jonjo Shelvey comments after draw v Manchester City – Read HERE)

(John Stones says Manchester City still very much in title race despite Newcastle’s ‘Two sloppy goals’ – Read HERE)

(Pep Guardiola philosophical as Premier League title hopes end at St James Park – read HERE)

(Watch official match highlights and all four goals from Newcastle 2 Manchester City 2 – Watch HERE)

(Newcastle 2 Manchester City 2 – Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Saturday’s draw – Read HERE)


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