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Opinion

Brighton 0 Newcastle 0 – Match ratings and comments on all NUFC players

2 weeks ago
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So, Monday was my first day back to work having being brought off furlough and if finishing at 4:30 and getting to a pub to watch the match was filling me with a sense of dread, given the poor fare we have seen this season passed off as football.

The eight hours spent at work running through file after file and form after form of COVID19 safety training, certainly gave me a shot in the arm to get in front of a telly with a pint of Guinness.

Nobody has enjoyed any of these matches behind closed doors as football without fans isn’t a happy or entertaining experience, but the prospect of getting away from a mountain of paperwork was welcome, in theory.

When I looked at the line-up my usual feelings came to the fore. The usual playing of unfit players (Alain Saint Maximin) and the usual refusal to play players who are in dispute with the Head Coach/club over contractual issues (Matty Longstaff) was evident.

I can’t blame Bruce for the starting back five as they were all he had to play with. How the injured players came to be so, is a different argument entirely. Bruce could have played youngster Kelland Watts at centre back but went for experience, which was fair enough, but the constant playing of partially fit players like Maximin is criminal, as much as it is unnecessary. Was the point really worth risking the fitness of our only bright spark?

Anyway, onto the game. We kicked off in usual fashion with the odd flourish from Maximin and the ever willing good work of Matt Ritchie down the left. This was all too fleeting as it was blatantly obvious Brighton were set up for a point to remain in the Premier League. They were to get their wish with a very compliant Newcastle team.

Dwight Gayle was isolated and didn’t really have much of a chance to get any service. Miguel Almiron was seemingly instructed to track back and stay in position and not venture forward much. The system was very much five at the back and then everyone fall in and protect the makeshift back five.

Any ideas of mounting attacks were sporadic at best with Jonjo Shelvey quiet and a bit sloppy on the ball. The only moment of excitement in the first hour was a corner where Gayle put a header over the bar.

Into the second half and when a friend of mine walked into the bar, the TV got fleeting glances and the odd stare but there was precious little to deviate attention to the very reason I’d gone out for, the football.

That was until someone piped up and said “He’s (Bruce) bringing on the subs by the look of it.” This always gets my attention when it comes to Steve Bruce as he’s very predictable.

The remit is that Joelinton MUST play, so therefore has to be one of those coming on if he hasn’t started and it appears Dwight Gayle is always the one to come off. My repeated calls for pairing Gayle and Andy Carroll seems never to come to pass, save for a few minutes here and there. Surely the Brighton backline would have been troubled more with our little and large striking duo?

Well, it could hardly be troubled less if you’re bringing Joelinton on. The Brazilian must be a godsend to any defender as he doesn’t change the forward play but merely brings attacks to a grinding halt. He is simply not a striker.

Match Ratings

Martin Dubravka 7

Dealt with what he had to and had a quiet evening. The odd save but Brighton weren’t really taxing him to much extent.

Emil Krafth 5

I’ve seen nothing that convinces me he’s good enough at this level, although did ok at centre back due to the injury crisis.

Danny Rose 5

Still delivers minimal going forward and doesn’t fill me with confidence defensively.

Mind you, playing at centre back doesn’t suit him either. Shouldn’t even be considered for next season.

Javier Manquillo 6

Like Rose at centre back, Manquillo isn’t suited to being a wing back. Played reasonable in the unfamiliar role.

Federico Fernandez 7

Steady away and reliable as ever. No frills or fuss. One for player of the season.

Jonjo Shelvey 6

Tried bits and pieces but if the Blockbuster pass isn’t on, there’s very little else in his game. Neat and tidy for the most part despite the odd stray ball.

Matt Ritchie 7

Deployed at wing back and a willing workaholic as ever but there’s only so much of that sort of player you can have. Ran all evening.

Nicolas Bentaleb 4

Offers nothing, zilch. A waste of a shirt and Matty Longstaff must be thinking what he has done to deserve this guy getting in ahead of him.

Allan Saint-Maximin 6

Under-utilised. I’m not sure the manager knows how to get the best out of our shining star. The opposition know he’s the only spark we have and mark accordingly.

You stop Maximin and you’re on your way to stopping Newcastle United.

Miguel Almiron 5

Like Maximin it seemed he’d been deployed to sit back and merely aid in the defensive shut out of Brighton. A few probing runs but it was a night off for the attacking players.

Dwight Gayle 6

I honestly think we have a decent enough player in Gayle. Had a flashing header over the bar in the first half.

Subs

Andy Carroll 5

Put himself about in typical fashion and was a bit more of a nuisance than Gayle but only once caused a bit of a stir for Brighton.

Joelinton 4

£40m? Maybe if you take the “0” off. Never really got into the game and as usual didn’t trouble the grass, let alone the defenders on it.

Valentino Lazaro N/A

Not on long enough to judge.

And that was that. No relief from virus training protocols and business brainstorming ideas, just a different kind of mind numbing bullsh.t. Still, at least the Guinness was lovely.

“We played two full-backs as centre-backs today (Emil Krafth and Danny Rose) and they were terrific. I was delighted with their attitude.” (Steve Bruce)

Now come on. Consider what they were playing against. Brighton didn’t seem to want to win the game and merely accepted the point they needed for survival. To say that Krafth and Rose were “terrific” is a serious distortion of the truth. Mind you Bruce has form in this area.

With both DeAndre Yedlin and Matty Longstaff unused substitutes, despite more being allowed, Bruce showed an unwillingness to freshen things up and gave the clearest indication that Matty Longstaff is being punished for his apparent refusal to sign the contract offered to him.

Pettiness pours down from the owner it seems. I could understand not wanting to play Watts in a game we were relatively comfortable in but to not throw either of those two more experienced players on to give Brighton more of a problem, was as negligent as it was unimaginative.

“We have got a lot of tired bodies. We can’t rotate like some others can.” says Bruce.

Er, yes you can, you just refuse to. Yet more unfounded excuses. Why does he come out with such rubbish and more importantly, why does nobody in the media pull him up on it?

If football is to get back to normal as a whole, crowds need to get back into stadiums as at least the fans push players on to greater efforts. They could hardly have been more comatose than this typical end of season offering.

Looking more inward, if interest is to be revived in Newcastle United for next season, then a change of ownership is paramount, replacing the Head Coach is a no brainer.

I said at the start that football without fans isn’t the experience we all want to see going forward but I fear (minus the takeover) that a lack of a sizeable crowd and in turn any sense of atmosphere, will be the norm in future, if this dross is served up on a regular basis.

The hope of the takeover recedes with each passing day and with the notion that sponsorship deals are being agreed and players are being signed (on freebies) and useless current players are being offered new contracts (Carroll), the idea that new owners are doing this is a silly one.

It has all the hallmarks of the current owner pulling the strings. Prepare for bad news folks, prepare for bad news, because with Newcastle United at least you won’t be disappointed.

Stats from BBC Sport:

Brighton 0 Newcastle 0 – Monday 20 July 6pm

Goals:

Newcastle United:

Brighton:

(Half-time stats in brackets)

Possession was Brighton 62% (69%) Newcastle 38% (31%)

Total shots were Brighton 11 (7) Newcastle 11 (5)

Shots on target were Brighton 3 (2) Newcastle 1 (1)

Corners were Brighton 9 (5) Newcastle 7 (2)

Referee: Simon Hooper

Newcastle United:

Dubravka, Manquillo, Krafth, Fernandez, Rose, Shelvey, Bentaleb, Almiron (Lazaro 86), Ritchie, Gayle (Carroll), Saint-Maximin (Joelinton 74)

Unused Subs:

Darlow, Muto, Atsu, Yedlin, M Longstaff, Watts

Crowd: 00,000

(This killer BBC Sport stat perfectly sums up this 2019/20 Newcastle United season – Read HERE)

(This Steve Bruce statement makes absolutely zero sense after Brighton 0 Newcastle 0 – Read HERE)

(Brighton 0 Newcastle 0 – Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Monday’s dire goalless draw – Read HERE)

(3 Positives and 3 Negatives from Brighton 0 Newcastle 0 – Read HERE)

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