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Paul Merson explains why (honestly!) Newcastle must keep Bruce because Pochettino would be a disaster

2 years ago

Paul Merson is at it again…

Talking about Newcastle United.

This might be 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, thinks this is exactly why Newcastle have to stick with Steve Bruce. When you hear 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 thinks 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 says 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 says NUFC have to stick with Steve Bruce at least until the end of the 2020/21 season.


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 did invite 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.

Many Newcastle fans think that this current group of players were capable of playing far better attacking football and that the likes of Almiron and ASM have been held back by the over the top negativity, whilst Bruce’s clueless thinking summed up by constantly playing Joelinton through the middle when it was clearly not working. With even just a few decent signings in the attacking half, why couldn’t Newcastle play much better football, especially with a manager who has Pochettino’s ability.

It is a myth anyway that Newcastle’s players were / are so desperately poor that they can’t do anything else but defend. The final 28 PL games of last season saw NUFC with the eighth best form in the Premier League, whilst in the final 16 games and once Almiron had signed, Rafa’s team had the fifth best points return AND the fifth best goalscoring record – 26 in Rafa’s final 16 games. Ironically, four points and five goals better than Pochettino’s Spurs, although he did have the small matter of getting to and then preparing for that Champions League final against Liverpool…

Paul Merson talking to The Star:

“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.

“If reports are right that Amanda Staveley’s Saudi backed consortium want Mauricio Pochettino to replace him for the start of next season, then Bruce will probably have to win the FA Cup to stand any chance of surviving.

“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.

“Don’t forget everyone including the Toon Army were tipping the for relegation back in August following Rafa Benitez’ departure.

“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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