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Opinion

Why Brighton, Southampton and Crystal Palace are leaving Newcastle United behind

5 months ago
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Before Mike Ashley bought Newcastle United, fans used to look to compete with the teams at the top end of the table, but as Chelsea’s easy victory on Monday showed, those days are long gone.

Nowadays our ‘natural’ competitors are the likes of Brighton, Southampton and Palace.

These clubs also operate on limited budgets but even those clubs are beginning to leave us behind. You’ve got to question why this is.

Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher touched on this problem when they said they don’t know what kind of team Newcastle are nowadays.

With the likes of Burnley, Brighton, Southampton and Palace (and others) you know what type of football they’re trying to play and they recruit players to fit in with that style and who will improve their team. Newcastle United seem to take a much more scattergun approach.

Since Rafa left, we have bought a number of players who are not an obvious fit for the team, the most glaring example being Joelinton, or others who simply don’t improve the team such as Hendrick and Krafth.

Of all the players we bought since Steve Bruce came in, only Callum Wilson has been an unqualified success (although a goalscoring forward was a bit of a no-brainer), whilst the rest of our recruits have either struggled to find consistent form, or to find a position in the team, or have simply not looked like Premier League players

When Rafa was our manager he would outline the types of players he needed and the recruitment team’s job was to go out and buy those players (although often they would choose the cheapest possible option!) and then Rafa would make the most of the players at his disposal.

Under Steve Bruce, none of these things seem to be happening, with the result that we are struggling to find any consistency or a coherent way of playing and a number of our players are struggling with their form.

Monday night’s game was a classic example. By playing a back four Steve Bruce exposed the frailties of our two full-backs and as a consequence the whole defence looked shaky.

The question is, what does Steve Bruce do now?

Does he stick to the current formation and risk Krafth and Lewis being overrun by their opponents, or do we change the formation and the players yet again?

This lack of coherence is why I worry about our prospects of staying up and why I can only see us slipping further behind the likes of Brighton, Southampton and Palace.

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