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Steve Bruce Newcastle United reign perfectly shown – This image tells you everything

2 months ago
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How is Steve Bruce doing?

The Newcastle United Head Coach has been at St James Park for 16 months and overseen 48 Premier League matches.

Steve Bruce claims he is doing a great job, Newcastle United fans not so sure…

The Head Coach pointing to a 13th place finish and 44 points last season, as well as fourteen points from ten PL games this time and once again sitting in 13th position.

Newcastle fans though point to the huge amounts of luck Steve Bruce has experienced, the outstanding contribution of Martin Dubravka and now Karl Darlow, in somehow keeping the score down and / or winning undeserved points based on all the underlying stats.

Who is right?

Well, there is some pretty overwhelming evidence presented below, courtesy of The Athletic.

It comes from an excellent article they have published which discusses Premier League clubs and how the pressure they apply to other teams when not in possession of the ball.

This graphic shows the difference for the 17 Premier League clubs (obviously no comparison can be made for the three promoted clubs) between how strongly they pressed last (2019/20) season, compared to this (2020/21) one:

The big story for The Athletic is that apart from Aston Villa, every other club is pressurising the opposition less compared to last season. The graphic above showing the share of touches in the highlighted zone (middle and attacking thirds) that come under pressure.

The bottom line is that the most attacking teams are the ones who press the opposition the most, the ones who try to win the ball back in dangerous areas in order to create as many quality goalscoring chances as possible.

As you can see, last season Liverpool and Man City were way beyond any other clubs. This season they like every other club (apart from Villa) are putting less pressure on the opposition, to various degrees.

The reasons for generally lower levels of pressing this season see various media pointing to the lack of pre-season preparation time and the concentrated number of games in a shortened season, whilst in their analysis The Athletic also conclude: ‘In their attempts to cope with a season like no other, it seems managers are opting not to rest their leading players but to reduce the expectations placed on them on match days.’

There is of course one Premier League club that massively stands out in this graphic above.

Look to the very very left and you have Newcastle United.

Of all the Premier League clubs last season, Steve Bruce had Newcastle so defensive and camped around their own penalty area, they allowed the opposition total control week after week, without them having to work for it. Standing off and not giving any pressure and intensity in the middle and attacking thirds.

From such a low starting point, Steve Bruce has even managed to take Newcastle United further back in terms of failing to pressure and showing any intensity in the middle and attacking thirds.

Yes Wolves and West Ham have dropped back and are the next two lowest for pressurising this season but they do play counter-attacking football, especially Wolves. Whereas with Newcastle United under Steve Bruce there is no counter-attacking plan, apart from giving the ball to ASM and hope he does something on his own.

Steve Bruce has been allowed in the last 17 months a net spend of over £100m on players, mainly attacking ones, yet he makes the team ever more negative and refusing to show any attacking intent.

Interesting to see where Newcastle United end up on this graphic above by the end of the season, as Steve Bruce keeps using the excuse that he simply needs more time to implement his cunning plan…

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