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Opinion

I thought I’d heard this nonsense from Paul Merson on Newcastle United somewhere before…

5 months ago
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The Newcastle United takeover hasn’t moved on…and neither has Paul Merson.

It is now 51 days since Mike Ashley and the Saudi PIF financed bidders forwarded paperwork to the Premier League for their process and checks.

We are now set to move into June with still no confirmation or announcement.

Four weeks ago (1 May 2020 – see below) Paul Merson came up with maybe his most bizarre theory so far, against some admittedly tough competition when you look at what he has said previously.

Paul Merson stating that it would be a ‘big mistake’ if new owners brought Mauricio Pochettino to Newcastle United and that they have to keep Steve Bruce.

When you look at their respective managerial careers in England…

Mauricio Pochettino has completed six full seasons in the Premier League and his teams have finished 8th, 5th, 3rd, 2nd, 3rd and 4th.

Steve Bruce has managed in England for more than two decades and never even once led a team to finish top eight.

Pochettino’s teams usually play great football and score a lot of goals.

Before arriving at Newcastle, Steve Bruce has the worst record of anyone who has taken charge of so many PL games, averaging only 1.12 points per game. His teams also have an abysmal goalscoring record, playing terrible negative football and averaging only 1.02 goals per game in those 392 pre-NUFC Premier League games, a record now even worse as with only 25 in 29 games at Newcastle the Magpies have averaged less than a goal a game and are the lowest scorers in the league.

However, Paul Merson, very bizarrely, thought this is exactly why Newcastle have to stick with Steve Bruce. When you read his reasoning, it very much brings to mind Stephen Fry as Lord Melchett in Blackadder, or one of Baldrick’s cunning plans (maybe a lot is explained by Paul Merson thinking Bruce was going against ‘his own attacking instincts’ at Newcastle, despite his entire PL record showing he plays dismal negative football and so few goals…).

Paul Merson said that if Pochettino came in, it would be a disaster because he would come in and with the help of new signings, try to get Newcastle playing better football. You know, that bizarre concept of telling your players to try and run towards the other end and score goals.

Merson said this would invite almost inevitable disaster because the Newcastle players wouldn’t be able to cope with this, having become used to Bruce’s clueless negative football. So he said NUFC have to stick with Steve Bruce at least until the end of the 2020/21 season.

Remarkable. Surely one of the biggest and most obvious benefits ASAP would be that we would no longer have to watch this Steve Bruce nonsense.

Yes the number of points haven’t been a disaster but the tactics this season have invited disaster, just sitting back with everybody behind the ball, no plan on trying to score goals, just hoping to fluke one via a set-piece. Only pure luck seeing Newcastle outside the relegation zone, along with Dubravka inspired and the disciplined defence that Rafa Benitez put together.

Now four weeks later (see below), Paul Merson is once again talking about Newcastle United, imminent new owners, Steve Bruce and Mauricio Pochettino…’Can you really see someone like Pochettino being a success there? He likes to open games up and tries to win with flair. Newcastle’s squad isn’t made for that. If they think it’s suddenly going to be Kevin Keegan football all over again they will end up getting relegated.’

Same old nonsense from Paul Merson. Only instead of Newcastle facing a ‘struggle’ if replacing Steve Bruce with Mauricio Pochettino and actually trying to play decent football with the help of some additional ambitious signings, Merson reckons now that NUFC could very well be relegated if making the massive mistake of replacing the brilliant Steve Bruce and trying under Pochettino to do some other than just defend.

Paul Merson speaking to The Star – 29 May 2020:

“Newcastle’s new owners would be making a mistake if they get rid of Steve Bruce and get Mauricio Pochettino…I think Steve Bruce has done a fantastic job.

“It’s a hard job and he’s done it so well. I’m a big fan of his. I think he’s perfect for them and should keep his job.

“Can you really see someone like Pochettino being a success there? He likes to open games up and tries to win with flair. Newcastle’s squad isn’t made for that.

“If they think it’s suddenly going to be Kevin Keegan football all over again they will end up getting relegated.

“It’s all very well saying the new owners will throw money at it. But how much? And who could you attract to transform that team overnight? It won’t be easy.

“At Newcastle you need to be realistic sometimes. You need to play with ten behind the ball sometimes, even at home.”

Paul Merson talking to The Star – 1 May 2020:

“Newcastle’s potential new owners will be making a big mistake if they get rid of Steve Bruce immediately.

“Bruce is a manager I rate highly and I firmly believe he should be handed the chance to prove himself in the new era.

“I’ve nothing against Poch, who did an exceptional job at Tottenham and will probably succeed wherever he goes. But is he the right man for Newcastle?

“Spurs play a very different game to the Geordies. They play front foot, expansive football in stark contrast to Newcastle under Bruce.

“Invariably, the black and whites had ten men behind the ball, relying on counter-attacks to get their goals.

“It wasn’t pretty to watch but Bruce showed balls in going against his own attacking instincts and realising fairly quickly that Newcastle, with the players he had, needed to keep it very tight to have any chance.

“If Pochettino arrives and tries to impose his own cavalier methods on the team, then they face another struggle.

“Of course, all the talk is that Newcastle need a big name boss to attract big name players and while there is a degree of truth in that, it’s naive to think the five, six or seven signings they need to play that way will arrive immediately.

“That’s why new owners should stick with Bruce at least until the end of next season.”

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