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Opinion

Usual shocking negative tactics from Steve Bruce against rock bottom club – Newcastle 0 Norwich 0

2 months ago
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Newcastle 0 Norwich 0 – Saturday 1 February 2020 3pm

You have to hand it to Steve Bruce.

Whether it is Liverpool away or…Norwich at home, he treats them exactly the same.

Terrible boring tactics with his players ordered to defend so deep and hand control over to the opposition.

Norwich will be kicking themselves not to have won it, only poor finishing from the opposition, gritty defending and brilliant goalkeeping keeping United from going behind.

A story that is so familiar for Newcastle fans this season.

On four minutes a superb save by Dubravka kept out a Byram header.

Midway through the first half a bullet of a half-volley from Pukki was heading into the top corner only for somehow Dubravka to make another flying save.

Claims from Steve Bruce that there was no real need for a striker in the January window are laughable, only one real threat to the Norwich goal in the opening 45 minutes.

Yedlin crossing and with a free header from eight yards, Joelinton should have done far better. On target but at a savable height, Krul parried and then Almiron should have done better when heading the rebound wide.

Despite Newcastle sitting so deep, Norwich still found it easy to work through the defensive midfield line, then at times the final line of defence. Dubravka making another excellent stop from Pukki as the Finnish striker got through before half-time.

The most positive thing you can say about Newcastle is they weren’t behind at half-time.

There were still unsold seats in Level 7 on Saturday morning, don’t know if they eventually went, but plenty of empty seats dotted all around St James Park. Whether that was mainly free season ticket holders not fancying it, who knows. What was obvious is that the atmosphere was desperate.

There were some boos as Newcastle left the pitch at half-time and after watching such negative tactics and next to zero goal threat against the rock bottom team at home, no wonder.

You have to feel sorry for Almiron and ASM as the pair of them try their best and run their hearts out but are smothered by this negative set-up.

Stats showed that in the first half Norwich had spent just a fraction under 30% of the time in the attacking third.

The second half kicked off with no change in personnel or tactics.

Norwich dictating play, with more shots/corners but failing to really threaten Martin Dubravka, Hanley’s header from a corner bouncing over the bar.

Two substitutions in three minutes (54 and 57) saw Lazaro and Sean Longtaff replace Yedlin and Hayden but with no instant positive impact. Still a negative set-up and Joelinton isolated.

A Newcastle corner saw Norwich break quickly and Pukki blazed over from eight yards with just Dubravka to beat, Joelinton getting back to be the closest NUFC player as the Canaries striker shot.

Saint-Maximin the only Newcastle player creating any problems at all and Norwich doubling up on him and also the odd cynical foul. As usual though, ASM struggling to add the end product, not helped by the lack of quality and movement around him.

One decent effort though saw the French winger cut inside and Krul turned his shot away for a corner.

On 72 minutes Lascelles gifted the ball to Pukki, he played a one-two and with only the keeper to beat, Dubravka once again to the rescue, almost an own goal as the ball rebounded off Lascelles trying to retrieve the situation.

No idea why Steve Bruce can’t show some enterprise even against the very bottom team at home, no pressure on the ball whatsoever and staying so deep.

As always, if Newcastle are to score, a set-piece and a defender likely to be involved, Fernandez seeing his header tipped over comfortably from a late corner.

The game ended with Joelinton back defending to help snuff out a late Norwich threat, more boos as the final whistle went.

No real added quality shown in this first PL game for the three signings, a late booking for Bentaleb one of the few times he was noticed.

This was dismal..

Stats from BBC Sport (Half-time stats in brackets):

Newcastle 0 Norwich 0 – Saturday 1 February 2020 3pm

Possession was  Norwich 57% (54%), Newcastle 43% (46%)

Total shots were Norwich 19 (10) Newcastle 15 (6)

Shots on target were  Norwich 4 (3), Newcastle 5 (2)

Corners were Norwich 12 (7), Newcastle 8 (2)

Crowd: 52,204 (1,800 Norwich)

Referee: Martin Atkinson

Newcastle team v Norwich:

Dubravka, Yedlin (Lazaro 54), Fernandez, Lascelles, Clark, Ritchie, Hayden (Sean Longstaff 57), Bentaleb, Almiron, Saint-Maximin (Rose 79), Joelinton

Unused Subs

Darlow, Schar, Lejeune, Atsu

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