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Opinion

Alan Shearer stays tight-lipped after Newcastle debacle – Refuses to criticise you know who

1 month ago
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On Sunday, I uncharacteristically predicted that Newcastle United would beat Brighton 3-1. No really, I did.

I thought we should have too much for little old Brighton.

Not to belittle Brighton mind you, they were bright, sharp, fit, had a game plan and could retain possession. They were everything we weren’t.

That’ll teach me for getting all optimistic and positive. Naughty boy Paul, don’t do it again!

I didn’t see the game live, for a few reasons. I was off work and had the chance but I don’t fancy the rigmarole of getting into a pub as often these days, but above all else, it didn’t interest me as I knew it would be a painful watch regardless of my prediction. That said, I didn’t expect what transpired.

I put BBC Radio Newcastle on here and there and kept the internet pages open and on the sporadic occasions I dipped in, it seemed one way traffic in favour of Brighton for much of the 90 minutes.

Going a goal down after a few minutes didn’t used to concern me as you still effectively have a full 90 to turn it round. When someone told me it was 0-2 I honestly thought the game was up and that would be that.

I’ve never before had that level of resignation with a Newcastle side, that with almost a whole game to play with, the team can’t get back into the game. And it was against Brighton for crying out loud. Where was the spirit of 2011 and that great comeback against Arsenal? What if yesterday had been against a Liverpool or Manchester City?

I like stats. I love them, can’t get enough of them.

So cast your minds back to last season’s corresponding fixture against Brighton, a 0-0 draw at St James Park. The possession was 71% in favour of the visitors (a common position last term) with shots and corners also in their favour. On Sunday, we had a bit more possession but when Brighton had it they cut through us at will and rained shots on Karl Darlow’s goal. The 3-0 flattered Newcastle and it was an annihilation in all but name.

And what of our attack you ask?

Well one of our best options (Almiron) was marooned on the bench until half time and the other (Maximin) went off injured after half an hour, with Bruce later stating that he “Should have brought him off earlier”…Why am I not surprised? It’s not even funny anymore with this idiot and injuries. The ideal tactical option yesterday was to bring Almiron on for the crocked Maximin, especially since we were 0-2 down.

Repeat this until it sinks in. “No shots on target, at home, against Brighton”. And that’s AFTER we went out and recruited some attackers this transfer window. Alarm bells shouldn’t just be ringing, they should be sounded in every bell tower from Corbridge to Wallsend.

Expect more of the same from here on in. The rot has started earlier than I expected and I don’t envisage it getting better, I see it getting worse as the current man in charge hasn’t the wherewithal to do anything about it. Poor managers rely on a regular influx of players to achieve short term success and when that success evaporates, the manager’s true abilities are relied upon. Be afraid, be VERY afraid.

After a brief late evening trip to the pub for a strangely sobering ale, I dared to watch Match of the Day. Immediately I knew I shouldn’t have done with a practically mute and muzzled Alan Shearer. “Dreadful” was how he used to describe the performance but failed to elaborate any further. Is that what stands for punditry these days? I’m not even wanting him to go as far as to call his mate Steve Bruce out for his tactics, team selection and motivation, as I’ve given up on him doing that, but how about some basic criticism of some awful play and/or performances?

Bruce sounded Alan Shearer out before taking the job and Alan advised him not to. So if it were me, the loyalty card would be null and void, I would be ramming home some home truths. If Shearer was to do that either publicly or privately that’s up to him but one thing I wouldn’t do is make myself look like an idiot on TV by not criticising the obvious. The truth hurts and by ignoring his friend’s advice, Bruce has left himself wide open to such criticism. It’s an open goal our former number 9 wouldn’t have missed back in his playing days, yet seems to not even want to shoot at it now.

He could have mentioned the fact that the defensive soundness, which was slowly eroded over the course of the last campaign, has dramatically dropped off on yesterday’s performance under the merest of pressure from the opposition. Or he could say that the attacking threat was so feeble that it failed to register a shot on target at home against Brighton. Instead we got comments on how “positive” Newcastle as a whole had been over the last few days because of the win over West Ham.

Well I don’t know where he’s been, or who Alan Shearer has spoken to, but people aren’t taken in by a sole win against a rank bad West Ham side. A “Solid win” was how I labelled it and I got called out for not being positive enough. Well let’s be joyous and sing proudly about getting tonked 3-0 off Brighton shall we? The buck stops with the manager and his apparent lack of any form of planning and tactics, the latter being something of which he famously said he doesn’t do.

My biggest fear was Bruce’s mismanagement of injuries and I still have grave reservations over his ability on that front as I’m fully expecting the inevitable crisis around the corner where injuries pile up and even getting a team together is a challenge. And even with his poor record in management I never thought I would be concerned about picking up enough points to survive.

I’m on record as saying that I believe we will avoid relegation this season due to there being three worse teams than Newcastle. People must understand that this is a constantly changing opinion as it was based on beating teams like Brighton at home, of which I’ve already said that I predicted we would.

Sunday threw me somewhat in the sense that no team can be that bad collectively over the course of a full season and hope to survive but then it dawned on me. We were like that for most of last season and survived by picking up just enough points, two of which were 0-0 draws against . . Brighton. We finished above them last season but one seems to have moved on, the other has regressed.

I loathe to criticise, no really I do. Some on here think I’m always having a go because I don’t like Steve Bruce. Rubbish! I want any manager sat in our dugout to do well, even if that goes against everything that has gone before in his career.

However, I won’t fawn and praise what I can’t see and I won’t refuse to criticise what I DO see. Some people need to pull their heads out of the sand and realise this before relegation becomes inevitable, be they an imitation Head Coach from Corbridge or a former striker turned tight lipped pundit in a TV studio.

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