PL Managers have figured this out about Newcastle – About time Steve Bruce did too
Newcastle United have been relatively successful since the last return to the Premier League, even sneaked a top half finish.
Now we find ourselves one of the three favourites to go down and have just been humiliated at the hands that footballing giant, Brighton and Have Albion.
So, what’s gone wrong?
Is this not the best squad we have had since the return to Premier League?
Why the lack of goals and conceding of so many?
We never really took a hiding, now we expect it.
It pains me to say that Mike Ashley has authorised a reasonable, if not world beating, squad and on this occasion isn’t to blame.
It pains me so much that I will say that he is responsible for lowering expectations so much, that the past season becomes acceptable.
However, If you compared the squads from last weekend and put Shelvey, Wilson, Almiron and ASM in the Brighton squad then they would all start. Wilson or Maupay? ASM or Connolly? Shelvey or Alzate? There is little to choose then between the rest of the players in the squads but our 11 and bench would be stronger.
There have been lots of fingers pointed at the players for effort…but on this occasion I actually felt sorry for Shelvey and ASM. Shelvey and Hayden totally overloaded in midfield, ASM being asked to play 15 yards from his own goal. It is a recipe for disaster, that was not their fault. Steve Bruce almost seemed to pick a system to maximise Brighton’s advantages and point out our weaknesses.
The key to this is Bruce caving and playing 4-4-2 with centre-backs who are just not good enough to play that system. We have played with three centre-backs to combat this, usually with Schar in the middle of a three as he can carry the ball and pass it out from the back. Look at the possession stats going backwards. A bit like Lascelles and Fernandez passing back to the keeper. Look at the average position of the team stats, again going backwards, like this pair return back to the favoured 18 yard line.
If you want your centre-backs old fashioned, backs to the walls and defend for your lives, then Fernandez and Lascelles are for you. If you want premier league centre-backs that receive the ball in difficult positions, that carry the ball out and that dictate the position of the team on the pitch, then these two are not. Bruce has picked two fellas that mirror him as a player, which is great…for 1994.
This is the fundamental failure that Steve Bruce has made. Play 4-4-2 if you have the personnel, I want to see more attacking football too, but this isn’t working.
Bruce is in the process of ridding himself of his best ball playing centre halves in Lejeune and likely Schar. Ritchie and Yedlin are out of the team or squad, so there goes playing wing-backs as others don’t really have the legs. Looks like we are stuck with a failing system. We should be able to play Carroll against Brighton, we should be able to free up ASM, we should be able to push Lamptey back towards his own goal. We can’t, as we have to cover the inadequacies in centre of defence.
We don’t have to play 4-5-1 anymore, that I agree with. We have personnel to attack the opposition and allow us more possession. We are no longer reliant on Joselu or Gayle for goals.
My team is 3-5-2 when the players are fit:
Centre-backs – Lascelles, Schar, Dummett
Midfield– Yedlin, Shelvey, Hayden, ASM, Ritchie
Forwards – Wilson, Almiron
Still leaves plenty options on the bench in Fraser, Longstaffs, Gayle after injury, Manquillo maybe instead of Yedlin (this may depend on who plays opposite side) and Carroll.
The personnel can be rotated. It is only really ASM that has made himself indispensable since signing. I do like Sean Longstaff, I hope he gets some minutes.
Simply put, we don’t have the players at centre of defence to play 4-4-2.
Premier League managers have figured this out, its about time that Steve Bruce did too.
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