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Opinion

The missing player that shows up Steve Bruce the master tactician

1 month ago
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It was interesting, if totally predictable, to hear Steve Bruce say that we hadn’t had enough to break Fulham down last night, after scraping a 1-1 against the newly promoted ten man opposition.

In fact, if we hadn’t got the penalty, I’m sure we would have lost.

So, did we have enough? Well of course the answer to that is yes. We had more than enough, but unfortunately Bruce is so tactically inept, he can’t see it.

Let’s look at the game last night.

So despite being at home and playing a newly promoted team in the bottom three, we end the first half 1-0 down, around 30% possession as usual and outplayed. Now I put all of that down to Steve Bruce.

He decided yet again to include Sean Longstaff and Shelvey, who are the same slow paced pass picking midfielder. At the moment Longstaff is horrendous and needs a break from the team. Those two can not be our midfield as we will be overrun, just like in all the other games! That pairing sit too far back, can’t escape their marker and get closed down too easily, so they end up playing sideways or backwards. It’s one of them, not both of them. That was mistake number one.

Mistake number two was Joelinton being anywhere near SJP, never mind on the pitch. So much for him benefitting from no crowds to get on his back. He needs the crowds to let him know jogging around and not putting a shift in is unacceptable. Anyway, I’ve typed too much about that waste of a shirt.

Mistake number three was including Dummett to waste a substitution. He was never going to see the game out.

Mistake number four and this is the big one, was his total inability to take advantage of them going down to ten men. After the sending off Fulham went 4-4-1 and the 1 dropped back to help out. The result was that Shelvey and lazy Longstaff shifted into their half and then continued the sideways and backwards passes. Fulham covered the minimal upfront movement and so all we did was improve on the 30% possession.

Now that is down to Bruce, as he openly admits. He was not able to rearrange his team to win the game.

Try this. Take off Dummett (I assume he needed to rest) and put on Carroll. Ritchie drops to left back, not that we needed to defend. Take off Joelinton and put on Gayle. That would at least give us the option of using Carroll to win a long ball. Bruce seemed to have no idea.

Most teams try to exploit the wings when they have numerical advantage. Bruce didn’t. Teams looking to win the game, get the ball forward quickly. Bruce didn’t. He genuinely doesn’t know what to do.

This was summed up perfectly in the last play of the game. We have a free-kick in our half. Darlow steps forward. Does the ball go into their box for one last chance, just like teams playing against us would. You know the feeling of watching that one last attack against us and thinking “they are gonna score here.”

Anyway. No, the ball is played forward twenty yards and then sideways and then it finds it way onto the wing about 30 yards further forward from the free kick and the whistle goes. It’s like we were playing for a draw! I couldn’t believe it.

Unfortunately, the lack of crowds allowed that tactical masterstroke to go unpunished.

So what about Allan Saint-Maximin?

Well, Allan Saint-Maximin doesn’t follow Bruce’s coaching.

The other players are following his methods and yesterday was the result. Clueless going forward and no idea how to win a game.

Allan Saint-Maximin is unpredictable and gives the team what they need – a player whose strings aren’t pulled by the puppet master Bruce.

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