Massive decision for Steve Bruce now imminent – Season defining
A massive dilemma for Steve Bruce is now imminent.
A decision to make that could be season defining for Newcastle United.
The NUFC Head Coach has 48 hours to make this decision and then deal with the consequences.
When Steve Bruce rolled into St James Park he promised that he would treat the cup competitions equally as important as the Premier League.
Giving him the job in July 2019, Mike Ashley declared that one of the reasons he was appointing Steve Bruce, was because he was excited by the new Head Coach’s determination to do well and focus on cup competitions, as well as the league.
This was despite Steve Bruce never having won a single trophy as a manager and in his entire 20+ years as a boss, only managing to reach a single cup final.
Bruce happy to buy into the Ashley spin that was clearly aimed at having yet another dig at the departed Rafa Benitez, The ultimate irony of course, because the Spaniard in his career has won the FA Cup, Coppa Italia, UEFA Cup / Europa League twice, UEFA Super Cup, Supercoppa Italiana twice and FIFA Club World Cup.
In only his fourth ever Newcastle United match, we learnt just how much we could trust Steve Bruce’s promises to play his best available team in cup competitions.
Newcastle at home to Leicester in the League Cup on the 28 August 2019, Brendan Rodgers made one change and Steve Bruce with seven, the Foxes progressing to the next round.
The myth of Steve Bruce taking the cups as seriously as the Premier League, instantly laid bare.
This season we have seen the ridiculous media coverage of Newcastle’s League Cup run.
Time after time journalists talking about how serious Steve Bruce was taking the competition, playing such strong teams etc etc, when the exact opposite was true.
In the four rounds of the League Cup, Steve Bruce made 30 changes out of his 44 first team selections.
In round two, Steve Bruce made 10 changes and the NUFC fluked his way into the third round, Championship club Blackburn completely dominating (64% possession) away from home, Newcastle ended up scoring with their only serious effort at goal, Ryan Fraser scoring.
Round three saw nine changes, Bruce lucky to be facing a weakened League Two team, Morecambe collapsing to a 7-0 defeat after conceding early.
Up against another League Two club for a place in the quarter-finals, Steve Bruce made seven changes to his Premier League team. However, it is the League Two opposition who start the better against the weakened NUFC line-up, Abrahams scoring after only five minutes. Newport having the other better chances of the first half before fatigue sets in and they defended ever deeper. Nevertheless, Newcastle struggled to create really good chances and only very late pressure ended with Shelvey scoring a quality goal right out of the blue, with only three minutes left of the game. Newcastle eventually crawling through on penalties.
The chance of a semi-final, Steve Bruce made four changes against Brentford. A feeble negative performance allowed the Championship club to triumph, Newcastle without a single effort on target in the second-half.
Now on Saturday, in 48 hours time, Steve Bruce has a massive selection dilemma.
Does he go with his usual policy of picking significantly weakened teams in cup matches, or will he try and give Newcastle fans something to look forward to other than a relegation battle?
Newcastle United are sixth bottom and in terrible form, no wins in their last six games with four of them defeats.
Three days after this FA Cup third round match, Newcastle play bottom club Sheff Utd. The bookies, despite the Blades only having two points after 17 games, make Sheffield United the clear favourites to win at 6/4, Newcastle United priced at 9/4.
A pivotal time in Bruce’s chaotic spell as NUFC Head Coach maybe?
In five days time Steve Bruce could be looking relative safety in the Premier League (if beating Sheff Utd) and looking forward to a fourth round FA Cup tie, alternatively it could be now a run of eight games without a win.
The heat is on.
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