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Opinion

New Steve Bruce comments on January signing shows failure of Ashley’s latest transfer window

9 months ago
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Steve Bruce has been talking about Newcastle United’s January signings, especially Nabil Bentaleb.

Mike Ashley blocked any buys in last month’s window with only short-term loans allowed.

The NUFC owner also refused to allow the signing of any strikers, despite that been the absolute priority.

Only one goal from Newcastle’s four strikers so far.

Steve Bruce then summing up the problems up front, when admitting on Friday that Mike Ashley had insisted on Newcastle paying £43m for a striker who wasn’t even a natural goalscorer.

You quite literally, couldn’t make it up.

All three January loan signings have played little football in recent times and Steve Bruce claims they knew all about the issues this presents:  ‘But we were aware of that when we signed players who haven’t played a lot.’

The thing is, sign players on loan in the summer and you have pre-season to get them up to speed.

Sign them as they did last month and the loan trio have only 14 Premier League games or less to show what they can do.

Both Danny Rose and Valentino Lazaro have come to Newcastle to get fit for the Euros this summer and try to make sure of their selection for England and Austria, neither of them will be staying at an ambition-free NUFC.

Danny Rose had started one PL game in three months but Newcastle needed a left-back with Dummett and Willems out for the season, so even though he can only start 12 PL matches at the most (against Arsenal and 11 of next 12 except v Spurs), it was fair enough to a point.

As for Lazaro, he had started only three league games in the past eight months before coming on loan and with Steve Bruce playing so defensively and asked the Austrian to play as a wing-back and not his natural position as a winger, I have my doubts. Especially seeing his defensive limitations in that second-half at Arsenal.

It is Nabil Bentaleb though that I find the most pointless signing.

Did Newcastle really need another defensive midfielder? Especially when, apart from penalties, he has scored a goal since 2016. Not exactly what a goal-shy team needs.

Steve Bruce says Bentaleb ‘hasn’t played for six months’, well after checking, it was actually almost 11 months since his last first team starts.

The midfielder played for Schalke in a 4-2 defeat at Werder Bremen in early March 2019 and then started the 7-0 hammering by Man City in the Champions League, since then his only first team football was 23 minutes as a sub in April 2019.

Steve Bruce says ‘I think Nabil can only get better’, well I hope so because he has been really poor in both Premier League starts so far, the 0-0 woeful performance at home to Norwich and 4-0 hammering at Arsenal.

I don’t see what he offers and to make matters worse, his selection on Sunday meant one of NUFC’s most consistent performers, Isaac Hayden, was dropped. Dropped to make way for somebody who Steve Bruce admits still isn’t fully fit!

I really hope I am proved wrong and Bentaleb turns out to be a world beater but I would far rather Newcastle had just signed a striker n January rather than this temporary trio, as even on the left Matt Ritchie has shown he can more than hold his own at wing-back. He is another one who found himself dropped last week to accommodate these temporary players.

Rather than having to pretend that Muto could be the answer and that Andy Carroll will be fit any time soon, surely Steve Bruce himself must have wanted a striker more than anything else in January.

A shame he hasn’t any say in the matter…

Steve Bruce talking to BBC Newcastle about Nabil Bentaleb:

“I think Nabil can only get better.

“And the more games he plays, he can only get better.

“He hasn’t played for six months, so we knew it he was going to take a little bit of time to get up to speed.

“We have seen glimpses of what I think he can get to.

“Certainly physically, if you look at his physicality, he has got better with every game.

“So we expect him to get better on it.

“As I have said, there are times where you can see he hasn’t played for six months, especially two or three weeks ago.

“But we were aware of that when we signed players who haven’t played a lot.”

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