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Opinion

Mike Ashley and Steve Bruce sleepwalking towards disaster

3 weeks ago
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As the transfer window rumbles on, it’s becoming obvious to everyone connected with Newcastle United, that there is going to be little investment in the team this summer and in particular in the areas that most need it.

It’s blatantly obvious where the problems lie with regards to the team as scoring goals is going to be a massive hindrance to our fortunes, much like it was last season.

While Head Coach Steve Bruce has been singing the praises of both Dwight Gayle and Andy Carroll in recent weeks, most fans will take that as some serious foreshadowing and an acceptance that he’s happy with his lot.

Yes we achieved safety but that was through massive amounts of luck and over reliance on our defence and goalkeeper.

Bruce can bang on about Gayle and Carroll as much as he wants but he refused to play them together last season (except for a few minutes here and there) on the few occasions they were both fit at the same time, so clearly has no plan how to go forward this season.

He surely can’t be so ignorant in thinking we are satisfactorily prepared to go into this season with what we have up front? Let’s look at some bare facts.

Only three PL clubs scored less than Newcastle did last season.

NUFC had the fourth worst goal difference in the division, even ending eleven goals worse off than Southampton did and they conceded nine in one single game.

Over the final five games of last season, we had worse form than two of the three teams that were relegated (Watford and Bournemouth).

Most worryingly: Dwight Gayle scored a paltry four goals, Joelinton just two and Andy Carroll got none and you have to look further back in the team to find where the goals came from. Jonjo Shelvey with six and Miguel Almiron with four, so we ended the season with the most powderpuff attack I can remember us having.

You want some positivity?

Ok. The scary thing is, Aston Villa survived relegation by winning just nine games and drawing eight, losing a massive 21 games over a 38 game season. The best league in the world this is not and it doesn’t take much to survive in it. Newcastle United are the best example of this for we only won two more games than relegated Bournemouth who were actually one of the teams to score more than we did.

Bruce can bury his head in the sand and proclaim that the current forward line is good enough if he likes, I’m sure that’ll keep Mike Ashley happy with the purse strings securely tightened, but we are sleepwalking into this season with the prospect of goals no better than they were last season.

I was going to say that if any of our alleged strikers get injured we would be really stuffed…only for Dwight Gayle to limp off with an injury against Crewe yesterday, now facing a scan this afternoon to see just how badly he has hurt his knee.

That will be Andy Carroll and Joelinton left to score goals if Gayle is out for any length of time.

It’s in his recent comments that Bruce sets off alarm bells with regards to how many players he thinks we actually need:

“I think we need four or five players to add to the squad, so we will go to work on that.”

So I’m assuming that Jeff Hendrick and Mark Gillespie are two of them, as Matty Longstaff was technically already here, so does that just leave a further two or three to come in?

However, he then lets slip that he may not be in complete charge of who comes in:

“I’ve always said with Joelinton that he’s better off playing to a side (out wide) so it’s quite possible that a centre forward could be on the list.”

And with that, he gives the game away that he has little or no knowledge of which positions the scouts are looking at recruiting for, with no doubt even less of a clue who the bloody hell they are. It has all the hallmarks of the transfer policy under Mike Ashley whereby the Head Coach picks the team but has absolutely no say on what is spent or who the players even are.

Newcastle persist with signing players we either don’t need, or don’t improve on what we already have. Yes it’s great we’ve signed up Matty Longstaff at long last and getting Jeff Hendrick in, whilst uninspiring, does give us another option in the middle for when Bruce’s shocking fitness management plays out during the season, but these are the simplest of signings to make.

Only could Newcastle United with the current owner and this Head Coach, make a pig’s ear of signing two free transfers (including a goalkeeper we didn’t need) while extending the contract of a striker that doesn’t score and rehiring a player that had actually left the club.

Bruce better hope that a centre forward is indeed “On the list”, as put it this way, if we go into the season with just Gayle and Carroll as our main goal getters we’ll be stuffed, as I can’t see them getting on the pitch often enough, let alone finding the back of the net.

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