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Opinion

This latest from Steve Bruce reminds us of how we ended up with Steve McClaren

2 weeks ago
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Listening to Steve Bruce at the weekend, I couldn’t help my mind drifting back to Steve McClaren.

It wasn’t on this occasion their respective ‘qualities’ as head coaches, although the similarities are there for all to see…

Instead, it was something Steve Bruce said.

Back at the end of 2014, Alan Pardew walked out on Newcastle United, even he’d had enough of Mike Ashley.

After initially making John Carver caretaker boss, Newcastle some weeks later announced he would remain in post until the end of the season as they didn’t want to make a snap decision they might regret, Lee Charnley saying they would be scouring the world for the right person to take the club forward long-term.

John Carver almost achieved the impossible but Newcastle survived relegation on the last day of the season (Jonas v West Ham) and even Mike Ashley accepted that Carver couldn’t be allowed to continue.

Very quickly the club then announced that their worldwide search had ended and they had found the ideal candidate.

That worldwide search pitching up 30 miles down the road on Teesside, Steve McClaren having been recently sacked by Championship side Derby County.

Back to the present day and Newcastle United have a set of strikers (Joelinton, Carroll, Muto, Gayle) who two thirds of the way through the season have scored one Premier League goal between them.

Yet when asked about the failure to sign a striker in January, or even seemingly seriously try to bring one in, Steve Bruce declared; ‘There was nobody out there that could have improved us.’

From such a low baseline, it seems quite incredible that nobody could be found who was more likely to score goals than this lot.

Bruce also goes on to say that he is worried about overplaying the likes of Joelinton and Miguel Almiron because he has had no options to replace them. So the question remains, why not bring in somebody in January to help.

Previously, Steve Bruce has claimed that Carroll, Muto and Gayle should all be available for Arsenal on Sunday 16 February but I would be amazed if more than one of them is, based on Bruce’s fitness predictions so far this season. I wouldn’t bet on Carroll starting another game this season and the head coach has only given Gayle and Muto four PL starts between them and even then, only because he had no other real options.

Yet another Mike Ashley transfer window where the most glaring problem (this time needing a goalscorer) hasn’t been addressed.

Steve Bruce reflecting on Norwich match and January transfer window:

“I think there was eight or ten Premier League clubs looking for one (a striker in January window) and if I go down that route, they (potential striker signings) were no better than what we have got.

“There was nobody out there that could have improved us.

“Look, with the problems that we’ve had…and I don’t want to highlight it, you can see with Joe(linton) in particular and with (Miguel) Almiron over the last two or three weeks, it would be lovely to be in a position where I could rotate them a little bit.

They have practically played every minute of every game and I haven’t got the luxury now of changing anything at that end of the pitch to give us a little bit of a spark.”

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