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Opinion

Steve Bruce must pick this best available Newcastle United team and play it until end of season

9 months ago
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What Newcastle United team will Steve Bruce pick this weekend against Wolves?

That is anybody’s guess, as the various NUFC journalists have been claiming that the Head Coach could once again be switching his team around again.

It has been a feature of Steve Bruce’s management ‘style’, to constantly chop and change his Newcastle United team.

For most Newcastle fans, it appears pretty clear that a bit like most things, Bruce hasn’t got a clue when it comes down to what his strongest eleven players are and how they should be set up.

However, even the likes of Steve Bruce has to realise that when you are stuck right in the middle of a relegation battle with 13 matches to go, you have to sooner rather than later, pick your best available Newcastle United team and play it until the end of season, no matter what.

For me, that moment has arrived with the selection of this Newcastle United team v Wolves.

These are the eleven who need to be picked on Saturday night and even if things go wrong against Wolves, you need to give the same eleven players the chance to play themselves into form in the upcoming matches.

When it comes to the goalkeeper, Bruce’s weak management shining through yet again.

Karl Darlow has done well overall but his performances have lost their edge, Newcastle are conceding at least two goals pretty much every match (nine of the last eleven) and it is a joke that Martin Dubvravka has been fully fit and available since December but Steve Bruce has bottled this vital decision.

Dubravka is better than Darlow and has to play, he will improve the defenders in front of him with his confidence and organisational skills. Only West Brom have conceded more goals than Newcastle and that is a woeful statistic that needs to change.

I can’t believe I’m saying we have to pick Emil Krafth in all of the remaining matches (unless Manquillo makes the very late games) but there is literally no other option.

Krafth is the only right-back option and whilst you can just about get away with playing Murphy in a back five, you can’t in a back four, he can’t defend. Krafth can’t defend very well either but with the ridiculous Steve Bruce decision to give away DeAndre Yedlin in the middle of a relegation battle, the Swede is our only option and hopefully knowing he will get a run in the team might give him confidence and a little bit of improvement.

On the left, Jamal Lewis has been very up and down but is another player we have to persevere with. Obviously better than Krafth but still a bit of a team weakness far too much of the time. Lewis will also hopefully benefit from knowing he will be playing every week and if alongside the same players, the hope is we will end up with a better drilled and disciplined defence. Dummett totally injury prone now and it would be a massive own goal to put him in ahead of Lewis at any time, as he would almost certainly be quickly injured again and the former Norwich player would find it hard coming back in, knowing Bruce doesn’t have faith in him as first choice.

With Fabian Schar injured, it is two from three.

An easy choice for me. Jamaal Lascelles is still trading on the two years where he massively benefited from Rafa Benitez coaching him. Fernandez and Clark are simply better players and better defenders, they have to be the first choice for these final 13 matches. I would also make Fernandez captain on the pitch.

Playing with two central midfielders, once again I find it an easy choice. Isaac Hayden automatically on the team sheet and Joe Willock alongside him.

Jonjo Shelvey is a total liability and either can’t or won’t put in the necessary graft on the pitch. Newcastle United have to have as much mobility and pace on the pitch in midfield and up front in order to be able to press the opposition and play higher up the pitch, if United are to score goals. Shelvey has been a massive problem being such a Bruce favourite, he hinders the team from having any chance of improving.

Similarly, Jeff Hendrick is a dreadful signing, he might have cost nothing but he contributes next to nothing in matches, completely anonymous and his career record tells you he won’t score or create many goals, he would have to have some great other skills to make up for this and he simply hasn’t got them.

Sadly, the Longstaff brothers have been completely ruined by Steve Bruce and is far too much of a risk to go with either of them at the minute. You can only hope a proper quality manager can come in this summer and get them back on track.

To score goals, Newcastle United have to press the opposition, try and win the ball high up the pitch and get the opposition making mistakes. We don’t have central midfielders who are playmakers and so have to do it differently, as we won’t score enough goals via long passing moves cutting the opposition open.

For me, it is a complete no-brainer that Fraser, ASM and Almiron should be played behind Gayle.

They are our quickest players and most likely to be able to provide enough goals in these final 13 matches.

Press the opposition and do it relentlessly, Hayden and Willock are obviously more mobile than Shelvey and Hendrick, get them to back up the attacking quartet in the press.

Dwight Gayle is the best of a bad bunch up front and has to play every week. It was a total nonsense to play him at Chelsea then replace with Joelinton at Man Utd. We have to give Gayle the chance of a run of games where he can play himself into form and form an attacking unit with the other trio.

Dwight Gayle has only scored five PL goals under Steve Bruce from 11 start (and 18 as sub) but that is prolific compared to Joelinton’s three goals in 45 PL starts (12 as sub). Joelinton doesn’t even want to go in the box, never mind desperate to score goals. He might do some ok work in non-dangerous areas but with a team / squad that has so few goals in them, you can’t have your centre-forward excused from being expected to score goals.

As for Andy Carroll, a complete joke he was signed in August 2019 and then an even bigger joke he got another contract for this season. Like Shelvey he is a liability, only one Premier League goal in the last 35 months!

If / when they get fit this season then obviously Manquillo and Wilson would play, but based on what is available, this is the Newcastle United team that has to play the rest of the season, starting on Saturday against Wolves:

You have to allow this Newcastle United team to get used to playing together in these final 13 matches, give them a chance to find between them how best to approach matches and deliver enough points to stay up.

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