‘I have only one word I want to say to Danny Murphy about Newcastle United’
On Match of the Day, Danny Murphy declared: ‘I don’t know what Newcastle fans want from Steve Bruce?’
Well Danny, as a Newcastle United fan I think I could sum it up in one word.
If you look at where we were just before Steve Bruce took over, we were seeing definite signs of progress.
The team looked secure at the back, carried an attacking threat and was one of the form teams during the second half of the 2018/19 season. Not only that but we had shown that we could mix it with the top teams, beating Man City at home (2-1) and Leicester away (1-0), as well as giving Liverpool a really hard game (2-3) in the final home match of that season.
If you fast forward to the present day, despite spending over a £100 million and having arguably the greatest array of attacking talent since we returned to the Premiership, we have gone backwards. We have been conceding more shots than any other team in the Premiership, creating fewer chances and instead of mixing it with the ‘big boys’ we seem content to concede possession and the initiative to them and to retreat into our own half.
This is during a season when a number of the other ‘lesser’ teams have shown what can happen if you have a go at the ‘big six’, with West Brom putting three goals past Chelsea and Aston Villa putting seven past Liverpool.
This lack of progress isn’t just apparent over the course of a season and a half but can also be seen between games, where we seem to go one step forward and then two steps back, following up some decent performances (West Ham and Everton) with some abject displays (Brighton and Southampton)
This lack of progress doesn’t just apply to Newcastle United as a team. It also applies to individual players. Under Rafa we saw players such as Jamaal Lascelles, Sean Longstaff and Paul Dummett growing and developing into Premiership players. I can’t think of one player who has improved under Steve Bruce and some players, such as Allain Saint Maximin and Miguel Almiron, seem to be regressing.
As a Newcastle fan I would like to see Steve Bruce succeed and I agree with Alan Shearer that he isn’t the main problem at St James Park. However, Steve Bruce is a symptom of what is wrong with Newcastle United.
One of the main issues between Rafa and Mike Ashley was that Rafa’s wanted the club to progress whilst Lee Charnley has stated in the past that survival the Premiership is the club’s only goal. Nothing that he or Mike Ashley has done before or since suggests that we are aiming any higher (especially if it involves spending more money) and progressing up the league or winning a trophy is simply not a priority. Rafa wasn’t happy with just surviving but for Steve Bruce (and his cheerleaders in the media) it will be seen as success.
Unfortunately, Danny Murphy is fairly typical of many of the football ‘experts’ you get on the BBC who come out with ill-informed and lazy opinions. When I hear the likes of him or Mark Lawrenson speak, I have to ask, do they ever speak to Newcastle fans and how often have they actually seen the team play?
Not only that but they seem to support the status quo and the views of the people behind the ‘Big Picture’ proposals, which is that the ‘big six’ should dominate English football and get all the glory and all the trophies, whilst if you support one of the other teams in The Premiership you should be happy just to survive.
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