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Opinion

These Newcastle United players are certainly better than what they are showing at present

3 weeks ago
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Bearing in mind the south coast side are one of the form teams at present, a 2-0 defeat for Newcastle United away at Southampton shouldn’t be cause for alarm.

However, you can also look at the fact that it’s another game where we haven’t collected as good a result as we did last season – further evidence that we are going backwards under the current manager?

So, just how safe are Newcastle United under Steve Bruce?

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I think part of the problem at the club under Bruce is his pigheaded nature. His desire to run as far far away from what the previous manager did is well is well documented and if he wants to change things to put his own stamp on the team, then that’s fair enough. I strongly disagree though that anything like the upheaval he’s overseeing was necessary, but there you go, I (and others) will be proved right or wrong somewhere in future.

The reason why I call him “pigheaded” is simple…

“That’s my biggest issue – that we go up and down. It was a poor, poor performance. That inconsistency is what nags at me.” – Steve Bruce after last nights defeat.

I would challenge that statement and argue that we are actually VERY consistent – consistently bad. Poor performances have been commonplace and the odd flukey result has been used by Bruce and his backroom team to get away with murder on the pitch in both tactical play and management of player injuries. Go through any post-match comments where Newcastle have not won and you will get the same comments from Bruce.

“We have to accept we weren’t good enough . . we’ve got to be better than we were today” (After the Brighton defeat)

“In terms of performance, we have to be better than that” (After the Spurs shambles)

These comments are nothing new with Bruce.

The reason why I highlight them is because he made them repeatedly last season. In between blaming referees and bemoaning his own self-inflicted injuries, or saying we are a work in progress or we must do better, yet we don’t see evidence of any of that or the much talked about “change” in the way we play that he has repeated ad-nauseam since the day he took over.

As for the team’s performances, please show us the “inconsistency” Steve, I for one would like to see it. Be it a game we dominate or pepper the opponent with shots on goal, anything to break up the consistent sitting back and letting teams have the freedom of the pitch to attack.

NUFC possession and shots on target this season:

West Ham (2-0) 42% 2

Brighton (0-3) 47% 0

Spurs (1-1) 34% 1

Burnley (3-1) 48% 5

Man Utd (1-4) 36% 4

Wolves (1-1) 37% 2

Everton (2-1) 38% 4

Southampton (0-2) 39% 2

We frequently end games with less than 40% possession and often with two shots on target or less. That sort of frequent form would usually get a team relegated, but this season? I’m not so sure.

The lack of quality at the bottom of the table will be used as a life raft for both Steve Bruce and in turn Mike Ashley. For I will state now, Newcastle United won’t be relegated bar an absolute catastrophe of epic proportions and I mean a big one.

As it stands, West Brom in 18th must win three games to leapfrog Newcastle, a tall order when they haven’t won one in the eight they’ve played so far. Burnley and Sheffield United (19th and 20th) are faring even worse so at the current rate of results, it will take those teams until April to catch us, even if we don’t win another game until then. Yes, they won’t stay that bad forever but it’ll take some going to achieve safety.

The bottom of this league really is scarily bad, especially if when presented with our stats above, you can just about call us safe from relegation after just eight games. No, really, I mean that. Obviously not mathematically but we will stumble across enough points to make any of the bottom three teams catching us all but impossible.

In the meantime, the dirge will continue. Results like the decent win against a depleted Everton last week will come and go, as will the odd fluke like the 1-1 draw away at Spurs in September. These are results teams in the bottom three can only dream of. I’ll predict now that if Newcastle United reach 20 points before Santa pays a visit, Premier League survival will be nailed on. That’s just nine more points required boys and girls.

I can envisage this season’s points total required for survival being the lowest in Premier League history as I can’t see West Brom, Burnley or Sheffield United getting much more than 10 points this side of Christmas.

We don’t have a bad set of players at Newcastle United but they are certainly better than what they are showing at present.

The way they are set up by the Head Coach and his team is criminally negative for the personnel at his disposal and in this poor league, a more progressive (or competent) man in the dugout would have us aiming for Europe.

The stats don’t lie but they cover up a multitude of sins, sins which won’t be punished in this league bar something extraordinary.

Bruce and his team are getting away with GTF, Grand Theft Football…

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