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Steve Bruce reveals what his cunning plan was to combat Brighton threat

1 month ago
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I love hearing top managers and coaches explaining how they approached certain matches, Steve Bruce is equally…fascinating.

The Newcastle United Head Coach has been talking about his cunning plan that he had prepared against Brighton.

When I hear Steve Bruce talking, I can’t help thinking of Baldrick, the master of cunning plans in the comedy classic Blackadder.

After Brighton had taken apart Newcastle United, Steve Bruce was happy to talk about Brighton’s best player and the ‘plan’ he had put in place to deal with him, saying ‘we knew all about him’…

“He [Tariq Lamptey] was absolutely fantastic and we knew all about him, we knew that Allan Saint-Maximin would have a handful.

“What we didn’t expect was Allan to try to make a slide tackle in two minutes in his own box.

“We knew that the kid bombs forward, he wants to get forward and we struggled against him in the first half in particular.

“Look….hindsight’s a wonderful thing.

“It doesn’t matter what you do if you give yourself a start like that.

“I understand [people asking why Miguel Almiron didn’t start] but if you are two down after seven minutes, then it becomes difficult against a team who obviously base their style on possession and who made it very, very difficult for us.

“I think that it would have been unfair on Andy Carroll [to leave him out] after the performance he put in last week ([at West Ham].”

This really is of epic Baldrick proportions, the Steve Bruce cunning plan to deal with Tariq Lamptey.

I can’t imagine any other Premier League manager doing absolutely nothing with their team selection and / or tactics, in order to deal with somebody who is clearly the opposition’s most dangerous star player.

Allan Saint-Maximin is very quick BUT we all know that he is far quicker running towards the opposition goal, compared to running in the opposite direction. ASM does get back to help but he isn’t somebody you want to trust in dealing with the opposition’s most dangerous player. You want ASM to have license to do what he is best at, running at the opposition and doing the unexpected, not expecting him to track the opposition’s danger man and end up doing the…unexpected.

We had already seen this season at West Ham, ASM had an ok game going forward but at the same time helped give Newcastle and new singing Jamal Lewis problems at the other end when not getting back at times and even when he did, sometimes caught out ball watching.

What Steve Bruce needed to do was so glaring, it is quite unbelievable how he changed absolutely nothing against Brighton.

If ever a situation was tailor made for Miguel Almiron, this was it. He is quick and relentless, never tires of conscientiously tracking back, 100% he should have played in front of Lewis on Newcastle’s left. Steve Bruce says ‘hindsight is a wonderful thing’…you didn’t need hindsight to know that you needed to change things to deal with Lamptey.

Almiron in on the left and then push ASM up into a free role in and around Callum Wilson. The Brighton centre-backs are all big and relish a physical battle, playing Andy Carroll was as big a joke as not playing Almiron on the left. Brighton’s central defenders loving a big lump to mark, not quite so keen on mobile attacking players with pace. Callum Wilson did well at times with the scraps he was fed, getting onto balls played over the top BUT then when in possession he would look around, seeing nobody in support whatsoever, Carroll jogging around.

Who knows what would have happened…but what I do know is that with Almiron on the left to help deal with Lamptey, ASM up front with Wilson to give added help and movement, then Andy Carroll on the bench as a potential impact sub later on. Newcastle United would have had far more chance of getting success against Brighton.

You have to question just how bad the team looks at times and wonder how much of this is down to Steve Bruce, with a clued up manager / head coach, I can’t believe Newcastle would look so limited, even with the same players.

Yes we have still won games under Bruce but I struggle to remember many where Newcastle were clearly the better team, Bournemouth away, but other than that…we beat Sheffield United and Southampton but they were both 0-0 before having a man sent off. West Ham last week, Newcastle edged it in terms of scoreline and performance but the Hammers still hit the bar twice and had more shots on target, possession and corners.

Maybe most worryingly, on Tuesday against weakened Championship opposition, Newcastle made changes but still had what looked a very strong team on paper, yet were totally dominated, Blackburn having 65% possession, more corners, more shots on target and NUFC scoring with their only serious effort on goal.

Last season, there were no discernible tactics apart from all out defence and hope that the odd time we got up the pitch, a set-piece might see the ball fortuitously fall to a Newcastle player, that was it. Unless of course you count giving the ball to ASM and hope he can beat everybody, the equivalent of schoolyard tactics.

His media friends say Steve Bruce is ‘experienced’ but experienced in what? Managing for 20+ years in the Championship and Premier League relegation battles from what I can see, he truly is worse than Steve McClaren, Alan Pardew and others, at least they had a plan at times, even if not usually a great one.

The highlight of John Carver’s thankfully brief time in charge, was a 3-0 away win at Hull, one of only three victories in the twenty games he was head coach at NUFC for.

The Hull boss beaten by Carver’s cunning plan that day back in January 2015 was Steve Bruce…

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