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Opinion

Newcastle United fall seven points behind the pace and set to get whole lot worse

5 months ago
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After Sunday’s results, Newcastle United are now 15th in the Premier League table.

Steve Bruce and his friends in the media no longer able to point to 13th and claim this is the norm for Newcastle in recent times…

Leeds and Man Utd overtook Newcastle this weekend and now only a possibly false sense of security of what look some really poor team right at the bottom, stand between NUFC and sinking much further.

This is how the Premier League table now looks on Monday morning:

After this weekend’s latest feeble surrender, Steve Bruce did his usual…’I make no excuses but we’ve played three of the top six in the last few weeks.’

I have lost count of the number of times he says ‘I make no excuses…’ and then always makes excuses.

Before every match, the opposition are built up to be a very good and dangerous team.

The thing is as well, after any game, Steve Bruce will bring up some reasoning as to why this particular opposition were so difficult to get a result against.

After the embarrassing tactics against Chelsea and very fortunate to only lose by two goals, Steve Bruce points to how difficult it is to play teams in the top six.

However, he also always says the same about the ‘big six’ clubs no matter how badly they might be playing at a particular time, so with Man Utd, Arsenal and Man City not currently in the top six, that takes us up to at least nine clubs where Steve Bruce would say it will take a miracle to get something off them.

With Wolves he points to their seventh place finishes these past two seasons and money spent, with Leeds and Villa in the coming weeks no doubt it will be mentioned about what they spent in recent times, plus of course Villa especially could end up top six as well by then!

All of this of course ignoring the fact that he (Steve Bruce) inherited a rock solid defence that had conceded the seventh lowest total of goals in each of Rafa’s two Premier League seasons, plus then he (Bruce) has been allowed a net spend of over £100m by Mike Ashley in his 16 months as Head Coach, mainly spent on attacking players, as well as allowed high profile ‘free’ transfers such as Carroll and Fraser on top of that.

Whilst Bruce and his journalist mates are keen to say eleven points from nine games isn’t terrible and eight points clear of relegation is great (last season 11 points would have had you only three points clear of third bottom after nine PL matches), it ignores the fact that Newcastle are already seven points behind where they were last season in these same nine fixtures.

Premier League table after nine games last (2019/20) season:

Against these nine clubs played so far, in the same home and away fixtures, Newcastle picked up 18 points last season, massive fortunate bonuses such as the home win against Chelsea and away victory at Spurs.

If you look at the game coming up it is ominous.

Newcastle United have eight PL games coming up, that take us up to new year and the 2 January game at home to Leicester.

Steve Bruce and his team take on the three promoted teams in consecutive games, with West Brom, Leeds and Fulham to play in the week before Christmas.

However, in the other five fixtures up to and including 2 January 2021, Newcastle picked up zero points in the same games last season. Losing at Palace, Villa and Man City, as well as Liverpool and Leicester at home.

I think it is very possible / likely that these five results could be repeated, I definitely can’t see Bruce’s all out defensive tactics getting anything at Leeds.

So, progressing from 11 points after nine games to many more points once we reach 17 played, could well massively depend on the two home games against West Brom (currently 12 Dec) and Fulham (currently 19 Dec).

You just know that they will be very much targeting their games against Newcastle as ones that could be pivotal if they are going to stand a chance of surviving, they will be throwing absolutely everything at them.

Steve Bruce is terrified to attack and seemingly has his team equally terrified to try anything positive, perfectly seen when 2-0 down against Chelsea with a throw in five yards from the corner flag at the Chelsea end with six minutes to go, the throw in going backwards and ending up with Karl Darlow after a series of backward passes!

When a team ends up like this, sent out by somebody so limited as Steve Bruce to simply organise themselves around their own penalty area and try to stop the opposition scoring, it become tougher by the week for them to break out of that mould, even against limited opposition.

With only 21 efforts on target in these opening nine matches, Steve Bruce is so indebted to right place right time Callum Wilson who has scored six goals from seven shots on target. At the other end, Karl Darlow has faced more shots than any other PL keeper, a massive 146 shots (on and off target) fired at the Newcastle goal, Chelsea were actually slightly below the average with ‘only’ the 14 shots (on and off target) on Saturday.

Is Steve Bruce capable of changing? Does he even want to try?

Well, a terrible Premier League management record lasting over two decades suggests otherwise and with only seven PL wins in these past eleven months, is there any room for optimism?

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