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Steve Bruce lacks class in dropping Newcastle United star for Wolves – Report

1 month ago
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This is surely the measure of the man, that even when Steve Bruce makes a decision that the vast majority of Newcastle fans totally agree with, the NUFC Head Coach still manages to anger everybody.

After playing every minute of the Premier League so far, Karl Darlow is dropped for tonight’s game against Wolves at St James Park.

The Times reporting that Darlow was informed by Steve Bruce on Thursday that Martin Dubravka would replace him.

However, The Times say that Steve Bruce informed close journalist friends of the decision on Tuesday, some 48 hours before telling Karl Darlow in person.

The newspaper reporting that, predictably, Darlow is very angry at the way he has been treated. Getting dropped is one thing, but for it to be done this way is, as The Times report, totally unacceptable.

Luke Edwards is a close friend of Steve Bruce and his chief cheerleader, little surprise it was the Telegraph journalist who put out the exclusive on Tuesday, saying that he had been informed that Martin Dubravka would replace Karl Darlow on Saturday when Newcastle take on Wolves at St James Park.

To compound the mess Steve Bruce has unnecessarily created, the NUFC Head Coach had waited far too long to do the change and only last Friday (19 February 2021) before the Man Utd match, stated that Karl Darlow ‘deserves’ to have stayed in the side because of his overall form this season. However, the reality is that Darlow had played very well early on in the season and as almost always happens with squad players, once the adrenaline wears off their form drops off. Darlow still doing alright and playing at a decent level BUT not as good as the first few months AND most importantly, Newcastle’s number one had been fully fit since December and had shown the past two seasons that he wasn’t just Newcastle’s best keeper, he is also one of the very best in the Premier League.

Darlow could and should have done better with the first goal at Old Trafford on Sunday but if it wasn’t for the fact that Dubravka should have already been recalled weeks and weeks ago, that alone wouldn’t have promoted anybody to say he should be dropped.

It is like Steve Bruce has waited for a reason people can easily be pointed to, rather than have taken the professional and tough decision earlier. In the process, also hanging Karl Darlow out to dry, as The Times report, treating him so disrespectfully by giving journalist friends the story first.

This has created a pretty abysmal situation…what if Martin Dubravka comes in and gets injured or just plays really badly, how will Karl Darlow then feel if he is then recalled after only a few matches?

It was ironic but maybe no coincidence, that Friday saw a ridiculous interview with Jonjo Shelvey made public (read it all HERE), the midfielder who should never be getting a game, never mind whether he should be dropped.

He made some incredible comments about both Steve Bruce and himself, with this gem amongst them: ‘…[Steve Bruce is] the best man manager I have worked under. The way he manages people, like individuals, he knows how to speak to certain individuals and for me, as a footballer, that’s what I want to work with. One thing he says, is that even if you are not having a good game, you work your socks off. He’s big on the stats side of it and how much we run and things like that. If you don’t run for him, you’re not playing next week.”

Shameless and astonishing, this sums up the club we have at the moment, the likes of Mike Ashley, Steve Bruce and Jonjo Shelvey all laughing at us, absolutely taking the p.ss.

Like many other Newcastle United fans, I think Martin Dubravka should have replaced Karl Darlow some time ago.

The Slovakian goalkeeper returned to full fitness and availability for first team football in December 2020.

Karl Darlow has done well overall this season but for many Newcastle fans his level of performance has dropped off significantly the longer he has stayed in the team.

Not disastrous obvious clangers match after match but conceding a sizeable number of goals that many fans feel Dubravka would have saved. Plus a general belief for fans that the Slovakian is a better organiser and inspires the defence with more confidence.

Then you have the very basic obvious statistics. This season, only West Brom have conceded more goals (55) than Karl Darlow (43) and Newcastle United. We are on a run of only two wins in sixteen games and 30 goals conceded in these last 16 matches. Plus, in seven of his last eight NUFC Premier League matches, Karl Darlow has conceded two or more goals.

For many Newcastle fans they feel it has been inexplicable that Steve Bruce can’t see Dubraka should be playing his number one goalkeeper, the one who stands the most chance of keeping the ball out of the back of the net and help NUFC pick up the necessary points to at least avoid relegation.

When making any decision you would base it on a mixture of stats / facts and opinion, based on what you see (and have seen in the past).

Karl Darlow continues to make a lot of saves BUT is also conceding a lot of goals, only the one Premier League club having conceded more than the 43 Darlow and NUFC have leaked in 25 matches.

In the first 11 PL games this season, 16 were conceded in 11 games at an average of 1.45 goals per match.

In the next (last) 14 PL games this season, 26 conceded in 14 matches, at an average of 1.86 goals per game.

With goalkeepers it is perhaps the most difficult to judge, many of the goals conceded by Karl Darlow you tend to think he had little chance of saving them…BUT with a better goalkeeper might they have saved some of them, especially if having more ability when it comes to positioning as well as basic shot stopping.

Just because you are battling against relegation towards the bottom, it doesn’t always automatically follow that your goalkeeper will be letting in a lot of goals, as Martin Dubravka has previously proved…

Amongst the numerous problems with Steve Bruce’s woeful and weak management, is that he has bottled such obvious decisions.

A pat on the back for Karl Darlow for sure but Martin Dubravka ‘deserves’ to be back in goal because he is a better goalkeeper, the fans deserve him to be back in as well. However, absolutely no excuses for how Steve Bruce is reported to have handled this situation.

Martin Dubravka helped raise Newcastle United up to having the seventh best defensive record in terms of goals conceded in 2017/18.

Then just to prove that was no fluke, when playing every game of the 2018/19 Premier League season, Martin Dubravka was seventh best in terms of number of goals conceded, despite battling relegation and eventually ending up thirteenth in the league. Here’s hoping he can quickly reproduce that form, starting tonight.

An excellent run of 88 consecutive Premier League starts from Martin Dubravka giving Newcastle United such a solid base in the Premier League, even last season when Steve Bruce’s chaotic management style came in, with some clueless tactics and team set ups, despite Mike Ashley allowing him a £65m+ net spend in summer 2019. Dubravka left so exposed due to Bruce’s tactics, a great effort still by the Slovakian to have the fourteenth best defensive record in terms of goals conceded.

Top work by Rafa Benitez, bringing in such a quality goalkeeper for only £4m, in an era where you see such fantastic sums paid for not such fantastic keepers (Chelsea paying £72m for Kepa, only five weeks after Martin Dubravka made his move permanent to NUFC for £68m less).

Martin Dubravka last started a Premier League game on 26 July 2020, the 3-1 home defeat to Liverpool, final match of that very long season.

Martin Dubravka Premier League record:

His average goals per game conceded for Newcastle being:

2017/18: 0.91 goals per game (11 in 12)

2018/19: 1.26 goals per game (48 in 38)

2019/20: 1.53 goals per game (58 in 38)

An overall NUFC record of 117 conceded in 88 PL matches, an average of 1.33 goals per game.

Karl Darlow Premier League record:

2015/16: 1.22 goals per game (11 in 9)

2017/18: 1.50 goals per game (15 in 10)

2020/21: 1.72 goals per game (43 in 25)

An overall NUFC Premier League record of 69 conceded in 44 PL matches, an average of 1.57 goals per game.

Karl Darlow is a very decent keeper and a very good number two, seems a good bloke as well, BUT he is not as good as Martin Dubravka.

The top managers make these tough and ruthless, but essential, big decisions.

Steve Bruce has been like a rabbit caught in the headlights, failure to make these big calls can prove fatal, hopefully Martin Dubravka will hit the ground running tonight AND if / when Karl Darlow is called on in these remaining 13 matches, he can get over Bruce’s treatment and play again like he did earlier this season.

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