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Opinion

This is now fully the Steve Bruce £100m Newcastle United team

3 weeks ago
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This Newcastle United team is now Steve Bruce’s.

That might feel like stating the obvious, as he has been NUFC Head Coach fifteen months now.

So let me explain.

Saturday night against Burnley, saw the most Steve Bruce team selected so far.

In the previous Premier League games this season…

Newcastle team v West Ham (five Steve Bruce signings): Lewis, Hendrick, Saint-Maximin, Wilson, Carroll

The confirmed Newcastle team v Brighton (five Steve Bruce signings): Lewis, Hendrick, Saint-Maximin, Wilson, Carroll

The confirmed Newcastle team v Tottenham (three Steve Bruce signings): Hendrick, Joelinton, Wilson

However, against Burnley, this was the starting eleven:

Darlow (Alan Pardew – Summer 2014)

Krafth (Steve Bruce – Summer 2019)

Fernandez (Rafa Benitez – Summer 2018)

Schar (Rafa Benitez – Summer 2018)

Lewis (Steve Bruce – Summer 2020)

Shelvey (Steve McClaren – January 2016)

Hayden (Rafa Benitez – Summer 2016)

Hendrick (Steve Bruce – Summer 2020)

Joelinton (Steve Bruce – Summer 2019)

Wilson (Steve Bruce – Summer 2020)

Saint-Maximin (Steve Bruce – Summer 2019)

All £100m of players that Steve Bruce has been allowed to buy by Mike Ashley, were included in a starting line-up for the first time, all five players who were bought in plus free transfer Jeff Hendrick.

Whilst to complete the full set of permanent Newcastle United team signings by Steve Bruce, the other free transfers: Ryan Fraser, Mark Gillespie and Andy Carroll, were also in Saturday’s matchday squad.

Whether by accident or design, the Rafa Benitez part of the team is shrinking ever further. Only three Rafa signings included on Saturday and of course it would have been only two, if (Steve McClaren Summer 2014 signing) Jamaal Lascelles had been fit enough to play instead of Fabian Schar.

Indeed, in Steve Bruce’s head, he probably counts Isaac Hayden as one of his signings as well, as he had him at Hull on loan, before Rafa took the midfielder to Newcastle United.

Steve Bruce so quickly having ‘his’ team is obviously largely due to the huge (by Mike Ashley standards) £100m net spend he has been allowed in such a short time, within 15 months.

Compare this to Rafa Benitez who was forced to wheel and deal and budget buy, by the end of his second and final Newcastle United Premier League season of 2018/19, only two of the Newcastle United team who started 20 or more PL games that season were permanent signings (Schar and Dubravka), brought in since promotion two years earlier. Benitez having to still rely massively on the same team that had won promotion, seven of them started 20 or more PL matches in 2018/19.

So whatever does or doesn’t happen this season, Steve Bruce has no excuses. This is now his team and he has had more backing in the transfer market than any previous Newcastle United manager (or head coach), indeed that £100m net spend these past three transfer windows will be higher than all but a very small handful of other Premier League clubs.

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