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Opinion

Steve Bruce – When the solution to the problem is smacking you square in the face…

6 months ago
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I was about to write an article highlighting the two clubs, reiterating my opinion that I believe Newcastle will beat Southampton and also survive relegation this season.

However, then I heard what Steve Bruce had said when he faced the media of Friday ahead of the game.

Also reading the subsequent article that appeared: ‘Steve Bruce looking for alternatives’, with up to five players missing tomorrow.

Now brace yourselves because based on what Steve Bruce said, this isn’t going to be pretty.

Southampton were tonked 9-0 by Manchester United in their last outing and have been on a run of form similar to ours, so surely the solution is to attack from the off. Well once again Steve Bruce trots out the usual defeatist attitude pre match:

“Defensively, it’s a concern, Jamaal Lascelles and Federico Fernandez will not make it. Ciaran Clark’s partner has gone into labour so we’re hoping he’ll still make it. We have a worry to Jamal Lewis, who has a hamstring problem, and Paul Dummett is still struggling so that defensive part of the team is a bit depleted at the minute.”

Ok. Then the simple solution to the problem is to play Schar and Clark (if he makes it) or Isaac Hayden. Bruce has repeatedly inserted the midfielder in at centre-back so I don’t see why it would be a problem against Southampton. Never let logic get in the way of a good excuse.

What is truly unbelievable is that he is handing the initiative to Southampton before a ball is even kicked. Like I’ve said, Hayden could be deployed at centre-back as could Emile Krafth or Javier Manquillo. There are plenty options at right back, far from ideal but options all the same. You could pick a combination of Schar, Krafth and Hayden at centre back and then play five in the middle, this is Southampton for God’s sake, yet still Bruce insists on accentuating the negative and eliminating the positive completely:

“We’ve been without big players for weeks. We hope we can cope.”

Strange, I only recall being without Allan Saint-Maximin for a long period. Others have been missing intermittently but the failure to adapt to that is thrown firmly at the Head Coach’s door, though this is nothing new. Steve Bruce has repeatedly done this throughout his managerial career and refused to adapt. Blaming injuries (often that he has had a hand in causing or making them worse) and failing to find a solution.

Steve Bruce has at his disposal: Callum Wilson, Andy Carroll, Dwight Gayle, Miguel Almiron, Ryan Fraser and Allain Saint Maximin as forward options, yet focuses on the depleted defence.

Is this man for real? The clue is staring at him as clear as day, go on the attack.

The last thing he should be worrying about is the defence. Once again, this is Southampton, not Manchester City.

I am loathe to pick a Newcastle team v Southampton as we all know it won’t be how Bruce sees it and the side will be set up so negatively, if his comments are anything to go by, but here are two options he could go with:

Both of these teams offer scope for attacking intent and seem quite expansive, which is why Steve Bruce won’t use either.

I actually feel I have been too negative in both. You could even swap out one of the attacking midfielders in both line-ups and stick Dwight Gayle up top and really go for it. I’ll say again, no disrespect, but we should NOT be worrying about Southampton.

The options are there but bleating on about how bad things are won’t wash. Not when the solution to the problem is smacking you square in the face…

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