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Match Reports

Steve Bruce has no answers as he is tactically schooled by Rochdale novice

10 months ago

It ended Rochdale 1 Newcastle 1 but no doubt who the moral victors were.

Newcastle United lined up with a starting eleven costing £100m.

Rochdale faced them with a team (and bench) that cost absolutely nothing

The home side reliant on free transfers, loans and youth products that they bring through.

Even their manager, Brian Barry-Murphy is (kind of) homegrown, a player with Rochdale from 2010 to 2018 and then becoming first team coach and eventually manager 10 months ago.

The first half saw the visitors totally dominate.

Newcastle moving the ball about well and Christian Atsu & DeAndre Yedlin having total freedom down the flanks as wing-backs.

A dream situation for higher calibre players up against clearly overawed and overwhelmed opposition players.

Atsu was putting some decent balls in and a quality move saw the left sided player go deep down the left and get to the side of the penalty area before pulling a perfect pass back, Miguel Almiron providing the perfect finish to give the keeper no chance.

Surely the start of a goals avalanche to match Newcastle’s superiority and control of the match…

Not quite. United retained their domination up to the break but lacked the quality to both create and finish that their possession in the final third should have brought.

Yedlin has great character and pace but like most of our players isn’t the complete package. His delivery into the box is woeful overall, too low or too high, so often hitting the first man. Newcastle won a load of corners but that was a poor return from the amount of possession in good positions that the likes of Yedlin had.

There were still numerous chances created in this first half, just not as numerous as there should have been.

A number of Newcastle players were guilty of not convincing finishing but Muto and especially Joelinton were top of the list.

The Brazilian could and should have had a first half hat-trick but yet again doesn’t look a natural goalscorer. Quite rightly he can usually point to minimal chances created in the Premier League but that wasn’t the case here, wasting three of four chances he should rightfully have been expected to score at least a couple of goals from.

Half-time came and it was a different game very quickly.

Steve Bruce was keen to point to the loss of Almiron on 64 minutes but in truth the game had already swung before that.

Rochdale had kicked off with 16 and 17 year olds in their  line-up and at half-time brought on 40 year old striker Aaron Wilbraham and changed their formation and indeed fortune.

As usual, Steve Bruce was clueless on the sidelines. As Rochdale got on top and indeed began to dominate, the NUFC Head Coach had zero idea of what to do.

He may have 20+ years as a manager but we are yet to see that he has learnt much in that time in terms of moving/changing tactics and how to counter what the opposition do.

Steve Bruce was schooled by a 10 months in management Brian Barry-Murphy, despite Rochdale having lost eight of their last ten League One matches and being only four points above the bottom three, Bruce and his team suddenly made the home side look like world beaters.

As Rochdale pushed for the equaliser and started creating chances and hit the post, Bruce was like a startled rabbit in the headlights. No ideas on how to counter the threat and produce killer chances of their own, the NUFC Head Coach simply had his team retreat and invite the inevitable.

On 79 minutes the 40 year old Wilbraham broke into the box and after carrying his luck as the ball broke off Fernandez, swept it home past Dubravka.

It was then backs to the wall as Newcastle attempted to cling on for a draw and replay, even though surely another match was the last thing NUFC needed/wanted…

Rochdale almost won it in the dying stages but Newcastle went into the draw for round four.

Adding further embarrassment, Steve Bruce tried to turn what had happened into a positive, declaring: ‘The idea was to come here and still be in the draw afterwards.’

He truly is another Pardew/Carver/McClaren, excuses for every occasion and a positive spin for any situation.

No wonder Mike Ashley was so keen to pull him up from the Championship.

Stats from BBC Sport:

Rochdale 1 Newcastle 1 – Saturday 4 January 12.31pm



Almiron 17


Wilbraham 79

Possession was Rochdale 34%, Newcastle 66%

Total shots were Rochdale 11, Newcastle 18

Shots on target were Rochdale 4, Newcastle 5

Corners were Rochdale 3 Newcastle 12

Crowd: 8,593 (3,200 NUFC)

Referee: David Coote

Newcastle team v Rochdale:

Dubravka, Yedlin, Krafth, Fernandez, Hayden, Atsu, Matty Longstaff, Sean Longstaff, Almiron (Ritchie 64), Muto (Ki 53), Joelinton

Unused Subs

Darlow, Lejeune, Allan, Sorensen, Cass

(3 Positives and 3 Negatives from Rochdale 1 Newcastle 1 – Read HERE)

(Rochdale 1 Newcastle 1 – Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Saturday’s draw – Read HERE)

(Mike Ashley on how it ended with Rafa Benitez “Joelinton was the test” – Never forget : Read HERE)

(Steve Bruce says mission accomplished “The idea was to come here and still be in the draw afterwards” – Read HERE)


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