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The only surprise is that anybody is surprised – This is how Newcastle United play every match

9 months ago
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Interesting to hear the comments about Newcastle United, during and after Saturday’s FA Cup game against Oxford.

Zero creativity… What’s the plan to create chances… Why so negative… Where will the goals come from… How bad is this… Why don’t we attack… Clueless… Newcastle can’t keep playing like this… Why doesn’t Steve Bruce change the tactics/formation… This is shocking… Can we leave yet…

The most interesting thing of all though…

Those comments could have been made during and after pretty much any of the previous 27 NUFC matches this season.

Every game is the same.

The Newcastle United team is sent out with the only plan to try and keep a clean sheet and for hopefully a goal to go in at the other end by whatever means, from the minimal amount of times the players in black and white get that far up the pitch.

There is absolutely no attacking plan in the other half of the pitch, apart from lumping the ball into the box and hope something happens. Little wonder that it the majority of goals have come from NUFC defenders in the Premier League games.

Just look at the last couple of games prior to this Oxford match.

Newcastle without a single effort on goal until the 94th minute and then a ball is delivered into the box after a Newcastle (first of the game!) corner is cleared, with Isaac Hayden getting something on the end of it. Yes it was a good ball in from distance by ASM but a case of putting it into the right area, not a move that ends with picking somebody out to score.

Everton was even more stark, a shocking match with yet again no NUFC chances and then we suddenly get the most incredible luck, lumping the ball into the box twice in injury time and we carry the luck, as well as committed players playing to the last, particularly Lejeune who twice provided the finish.

They were two incredibly negative performances with not a single shot in the 90 minutes of either game and Newcastle massively fluked four points.

Yet reading both local and national media you wouldn’t think it, it is all very much a case of look at the points and sticking fingers in ears Ayoze Perez style when anybody dares to suggest that the other team having the vast majority of the possession, chances, time and touches in the opposition 18 yard area, is a recipe for disaster if it continues.

You have journalists ridiculing Newcastle fan who point out that the performances have been terrible and that the luck has been incredible, they are simply pointed towards the Premier League table and told to count how many more points NUFC have now, compared to the same stage last season under Rafa Benitez.

So for me when I have heard comments about how bad the Oxford game was, the only surprise is that anybody is surprised – this is how Newcastle United play every match.

Steve Bruce appears totally incapable of setting the team up in any other way than all out defence.

His Premier League record as a manager these past couple of decades shows someone who has his teams averaging 1.03 goals per game before joining Newcastle and that dismal stat has continued with 24 goals so far in 24 PL games with Newcastle United.

The entire Premier League records of Newcastle managers ahead of the 2019/20 season (points per game won, goals per game scored, goals per game conceded):

Steve Bruce didn’t have a clue what to do against Oxford yesterday, just as was the case at Rochdale when after the break the home side gave it a go and should have ended up winning.

I don’t believe that these players are as bad as Steve Bruce is making them look when it comes to trying to play in the attacking half.

Honestly, in all but a tiny number of games, the only positive you can really say about performances is that Dubravka and his defence have made it difficult for the opposition to score.

Yes we all love seeing the team win and celebrate when they do so but Newcastle having only one or two serious efforts on target per game on average and the opposition having considerably more, will only spell disaster sooner rather than later.

Joelinton might not be £40m (or £43m) worth of goalscoring centre-forward but he is being hung out to dry with these clueless Steve Bruce tactics. Isolated and starved of service, with no attacking plan whatsoever.

Stats from BBC Sport:

Newcastle 0 Oxford 0 – Saturday 25 January 3pm

Possession was Oxford 38%, Newcastle 62%

Total shots were Oxford 8 Newcastle 15

Shots on target were Oxford 2, Newcastle 4

Corners were Oxford 4, Newcastle 7

Crowd: 52,221 (incl approx 3,800 Oxford)

Referee: Robert Jones

Newcastle team v Oxford:

Darlow, Yedlin, Schar, Lascelles, Clark, Ritchie, Sean Longstaff (Hayden 87), Bentaleb (Atsu 80), Almiron, Saint-Maximin (Matty Longstaff 70), Joelinton

Unused Subs

Elliot, Fernandez, Sorensen, Allan

(Nabil Bentaleb reflects on his debut in the mess that was Newcastle 0 Oxford 0 – Read HERE)

(You couldn’t make it up…Embarrassing Steve Bruce complains about FA Cup fourth replay – Read HERE)

(Newcastle 0 Oxford 0 – Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Saturday’s dismal draw – Read HERE)

(Newcastle United reach FA Cup Fifth Round…Draw! Dismal Newcastle 0 Oxford 0 – Read HERE)

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