Steve Bruce talks about striker position ahead of January transfer window opening
Scoring goals has been the biggest problem in the 17 months Steve Bruce has been at Newcastle United.
Only 52 goals scored in 49 Premier League matches is nowhere near good enough.
Although many Newcastle United fans say they aren’t surprised, considering that in the 392 Premier League matches Steve Bruce took charge of before coming to St James Park, his teams averaged only 1.02 goals per game.
With those stats, NUFC supporters would say it was entirely predictable what we would see.
In summer 2019, Steve Bruce brought in three new attacking options in Joelinton, ASM and Andy Carroll as part of a net spend of over £65m. As things currently stand, they have scored a collective seven goals in 108 Premier League appearances.
Once again allowed to spend relatively freely with another £35m+ net spend in summer 2020, the results have been a lot better, Callum Wilson and Ryan Fraser scoring a collective seven goals in 15 Premier League appearances, although of course they are all down to Wilson.
Completing the set of attacking options, the players Steve Bruce inherited (Miguel Almiron and Dwight Gayle) have scored a collective 10 Premier League goals in 67 appearances under Bruce.
Premier League goals and appearances under Steve Bruce:
7 in 10 – Callum Wilson
3 in 48 – Joelinton
5 in 21 – Dwight Gayle
0 in 26 – Andy Carroll
4 in 34 – Allan Saint-Maximin
0 in 5 – Ryan Fraser
5 in 46 – Miguel Almiron
So altogether we are looking at 24 goals scored by these seven attacking players in 190 Premier League appearances.
Two of those 24 goals came of course on Saturday, Almiron scoring in less than 20 seconds, whilst Dwight Gayle came off the bench and scored a classy header to win a game that looked to have slipped away, against very poor opposition.
In the aftermath of the 2-1 win, Steve Bruce talked about the range of attacking options and made clear what will happen in the January transfer window, quotes via the Chronicle:
“We spent a big chunk of money on the top end of the pitch because it’s the vitally important part.
“It [scoring goals] has been difficult, like it always is.
“But hopefully with time, and like Miguel Almiron and Joelinton, they are starting to show bits and showing signs.
“When you already have Callum Wilson and Dwight Gayle, we have a decent array which hopefully will see us through.”
So Steve Bruce making clear there are no plans to bring in any other strikers in the upcoming transfer window.
I think the vast majority of Newcastle fans won’t think that is unreasonable BUT there are massive questions for Steve Bruce to answer as regards the lack of goals.
A lack of goals which is inextricably linked to a failure to create anywhere enough chances.
A failure to create chances inextricably linked to Steve Bruce’s over the top negative tactics.
The seven attacking options in the squad cost £110m in transfer fees. Steve Bruce has been responsible for £80m of that as part of his £100m net spend these past 17 months, plus also allowed to bring in high profile free transfers in Carroll and Fraser.
Ironically, it was the two attacking players he inherited, Almiron (£20m) and Gayle (£10m) who got the goals against West Brom.
As Steve Bruce says, he has been allowed to spend a ‘big chunk of money’ on strikers, for a very poor return so far.
On Saturday, Steve Bruce got a lot of praise for making attacking substitutions to help win the game.
However, with Wilson, Almiron, Carroll, Joelinton and Gayle all in the squad at the weekend, Newcastle fans will rightly wonder why more reliance and trust is put on the attacking players the Head Coach has at his disposal.
When you compare this to West Brom who were left relying on a lumbering past it Charlie Austin as their best attacking threat, why on earth aren’t Newcastle United playing to their strengths?
Newcastle United do definitely need strengthening in the transfer market but I don’t see it happening to any significant degree in January. However, those are positions further back in the team anyway, such as a midfield playmaker, right back, probably a new younger centre-back with pace etc.
In attacking positions there will always be room for improvement but as things stand, surely no excuses for Steve Bruce with the options he currently has at the club. It is not a case of having to be reckless as some of the particularly daft pundits claim, who reckon if Newcastle try to attack they will be relegated. Newcastle United have better attacking options than at least half the Premier League clubs I believe, if only they are given the opportunity to show it.
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