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Opinion

I had zero expectations of a decent game and Steve Bruce took us below that

1 month ago
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It ended West Brom 0 Newcastle 0 and apologists may point to injury hit squads, or any points away from home being good points.

However, scrapping to hold onto a goalless draw against a team that’s only won three games all season, is pretty miserable whichever way you look at it.

I have to admit, I had no particular expectations of a decent game going into this match, but even those appallingly low expectations were not met by this turgid slog of a football game.

Here are a points I took from today’s fixture and how they affect Newcastle United going forward.

Rudderless Magpies

It’s hard to say the team didn’t put a shift in today, as the majority of players did press well and didn’t stop running until the final whistle.

However, how many times did the camera cut to the dugout, only to see Steve Bruce standing, watching, silent?

Most managers you see are continually shouting instructions, pointing to where players should go and what to do. All we seem to get is an additional spectator, watching the game pass him by. Even the substitutions were laughable.

Willock playing well in the false 9 role? Better push him back and put Gayle in, who then looked out of sorts and lacking in instruction for the 30 minutes he was on for.

Then it looked like that was all we were going to get in terms of tactics, until Andy Carroll was brought on with 30 seconds remaining, and if that wasn’t bad enough…just to make sure he was ineffectual, Carroll was brought on for the only person who could be whipping decent crosses into him, Ryan Fraser. It really does boggle the mind.

Half chances and missed opportunities

When your best chances fall to Joelinton, that just about sums it up doesn’t it?

In the absence of Wilson, Almiron and ASM, he’s pretty much the most established attacking player we have.

While his performances have improved since the split-striker tactic came in (since he was never a number 9 anyway) he still isn’t going to be the answer to the problem that is a lack of goals. Our striking options really do lack up top, especially in the goalscorer roles.

We have creators, hard workers, and those who can create a little bit of magic, but until you have a few players that can reliably stick the ball in the back of the net, it all amounts to snatched chances and wasted opportunities.

Defensive solidity

On a positive note, the back four were very solid and did their utmost to ensure we walked away with at least something today.

We knew West Brom would be a threat from set-pieces and the defence was switched on to deal with pretty much everything. Then when something did get through, Dubravka was equal to the task.

Obviously the Baggies aren’t exactly the biggest attacking threat in the league but a clean sheet might give our defence something to build on and we can draw our way out of trouble. Hughton era Brighton style?

All in all, this match really was painful to watch, really highlights the fact that we need our top attackers back ASAP.

Stats from BBC Sport:

West Brom 0 Newcastle 0 – Sunday 7 March 12pm

Goals:

Newcastle:

West Brom:

(Half-time stats in brackets)

Possession was West Brom 53% (52%) Newcastle 47% (48%)

Total shots were West Brom 13 (5) Newcastle 9 (4)

Shots on target were West Brom 3 (3) Newcastle 5 (2)

Corners were West Brom 9 (3) Newcastle 7 (4)

Referee: Martin Atkinson

Newcastle United:

Dubravka, Krafth, Lascelles, Clark, Dummett, Willock, Hayden, Shelvey, Hendrick (Gayle 57), Fraser (Carroll 90+3), Joelinton

Unused Subs:

Darlow, Ritchie, Lewis, Fernandez, Manquillo, Murphy, S Longstaff

Crowd: 00,000

(West Brom 0 Newcastle 0 – Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Sunday’s draw – Read HERE)

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