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Opinion

Was it Steve Bruce or the Newcastle United players who decided to have a go in second half?

8 months ago
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The editor asked if I could do three negatives and three positives for The Mag once the Leeds game ended.

After yet another defeat, I just sent them as full-time kneejerk comments, indeed after the first 45 minutes I could easily have written 50 negatives with zero positives.

Leeds were free flowing and cutting through our midfield with ease, not dissimilar to the Aston Villa debacle of a few days ago, In fact, the only positive I could muster was the fact that when we had a corner we actually for once avoided conceding at the other end within 30 seconds of it being taken.

Ok, I admit the second half we were far better (how could we not be?) and with a little bit of luck could have actually won the game.

However, while Bruce will try and take some credit for that, he simply can’t. I honestly think the Newcastle United players said to themselves ‘b.llocks to his sh.t, lets go and have a go’, and we started to play on the front foot. Shelvey, who is by far our most creative player, was suddenly passing balls about like we know he can, whilst Schar came into his own and was unlucky on a couple of occasions.

Other players suddenly looked interested and with the arrival of ASM (again Bruce will claim credit but in reality he was bound to come on), space started to open up in the Leeds defence. We scored a quality equaliser (although he nearly missed it) and I honestly believe if Leeds had not countered and scored so quickly, Newcastle would have gone on to win the game.

The point I am trying to make however, is what changed?

Did Leeds switch off? Is the Leeds midfield and defence that fragile? Or did the Newcastle players really say to themselves ‘b.llocks to Bruce lets get at them’?

Clearly there are decent players at the club, there are also young players who have promise and yet slowly but surely their ability is being coached out of them. Jamal Lewis is a promising left back who for some reason prefers to use his right foot, he came here for reasonable money whilst other clubs were sniffing and he has looked average at best, both Longstaff brothers, particularly Sean, have gone backwards to an alarming level, these are lads who should have the world at their feet, yet they look championship level at best now.

I always thought Lascelles as a decent centre half and always up for the fight, under Bruce ( who himself was a quality defender) he looks lost, his marking is awful at best and a player who not so long ago we thought deserved a chance at international level, is another who is Championship level at best on current form. You could put Hayden in the same bracket as Lascelles in my eyes.

These are just a few players I have named but you could go on if you dug deeper.

Then you have his signings.

I will leave Joelinton out of it for now, as I believe that deal was done before he arrived.

Callum Wilson is a quality centre forward who was showing that in the early stages of his Newcastle career / season, he too has gone backwards, he actually does not look like he could buy a goal right now and must be ruing the day he chose us.

Jeff Hendrick, Burnley fans will say he is a workhorse and an asset that every team needs, I see a one paced plodder who can only pass sideways, and even his sideways passes often fail to reach their target.

Why did he sign Emil Krafth, as in Manquillo and Yedlin we already have two okay right backs. Krafth is slow, is often caught put of position because of this, he is no better than what we had.

Going back to Joelinton, can he really be that bad? We have seen no evidence to suggest anything different yet Bruce still insists on playing him regularly in whatever position he feels he has to. It is actually comical, just who sanctioned the alleged price tag of £40 million?

Going back to last night’s game and it was clear that Leeds have weakness, namely their ability to deal with set-pieces and crosses, it was obvious to everyone that Andy Carroll should have been playing, make no mistake his return has been completely underwhelming but with Leeds being so weak at defending he surely would have made some sort of impact. However, Andy is left idle on the bench…it’s a fact that Steve Bruce is an inept manager, how many times has he taken Carroll off and bought wingers on or vice versa, it’s comically criminal.

Ok, so Bruce has a coaching staff.

Stephen Clemence – bang average midfielder, but surely if us mere mortals can see what’s going on then he can too, or is he as inept as Bruce?

Then we have Agnew, I have my suspicions about him. Some of you many years ago may remember him proclaiming quite openly in his red and white shirt how Sunderland were going to be bigger than Newcastle, this was at a time when Newcastle were in the upper echelons, beating the likes of Barcelona in the Champions League and while we did not win anything, the previous five years under the recently departed Kevin Keegan we had set the world on fire with a brand of total football. Meanwhile baldy Agnew was plying his trade for Sunderland at a tiny 22,000 capacity not sold out Roker Park! Ok, I grant you the Stadium of Light was completed and Premier League football was achieved shortly after, and while mackems will bang on about their six in a row, the reality is they are now in a bigger mess than us, and as yet we have still not seen any of their breed in Milan.

Going back to Newcastle United and it is clear Mike Ashley won’t get rid of Steve Bruce, we can only hope the reason is that he does not want to shell out any more cash before the club is sold, but just exactly how much is the compensation amount? It would be pennies in the grand scheme of things.

Is the club on the cusp of being sold? Well amongst the smoke and mirrors the fact is none of us actually know, we can only just hope, I do have a gut feeling that things may be going on behind the scenes but that could just be a feeling of hope, hope is all we have left.

This weekend we have Everton away, this Everton team while a little bit inconsistent, looks quite decent and you can be sure they won’t have the defence that Leeds have. So what will happen – will Bruce get the Newcastle United players in and tell them they play to his tactics or not at all, or will the players again take the bull by the horns and have a go on the front foot. I think we know what will happen as Bruce will play a familiar 10-0-0 formation.

Stay safe everyone, as I can personally confirm COVID is unpleasant at best and we all know what it can do at worst, it is going to be at least another few months before we can set foot in St James Park or the Pub again and whether you are someone who boycotted pre-COVID, or attended, at the end of the day I think we all just need normality in our lives and to be able to see friends and family and to get on doing normal things again.

A belated Happy New year to you all.

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