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How has Steve Bruce got to own this total reliance on Allan Saint-Maximin as a positive???

5 months ago

On 57 minutes with Newcastle United trailing 1-0 at Burnley, Allan Saint-Maximin and Callum Wilson replaced Joelinton and Dwight Gayle.

Seven minutes later Newcastle were leading 2-1.

Allan Saint-Maximin magic setting up Jacob Murphy for a free shot in the box, then ASM himself scoring a superb solo goal to win the match.

Almost as big a highlight for me, was the comment from one of the dopes on the TV coverage, declaring how with an ‘inspired double substitution’ it was Steve Bruce who had turned the game.

Hmmm, the tactics, team selection, formation and actual play had been absolutely shocking for 57 minutes, less a brief better three or four minutes spell late in the first half, then trailing 1-0 and it looking only a matter of time before a killer second is conceded, you bring on your best two players and goal threats off the bench.

Exactly how ‘inspired’ do you have to be, to get your best players on the pitch when you are losing and playing so woefully?

Fair enough, if Steve Bruce had instead replaced Joelinton with Karl Darlow and the reserve keeper had scored a hat-trick, then ‘inspired’ it would be sure enough.

In actual fact, it wasn’t even a double substitution that turned the match.

We all know that Callum Wilson is a very decent striker BUT on Sunday it was clear that after seven games out, the centre-forward was nowhere near match fit and I can’t even recall him touching the ball. It’s not a criticism of the striker, fair play to him that he gave it a go when NUFC were in such a desperate position on the day, but Callum Wilson played no role this time in a dramatic turn around in fortunes.

It was pure and simply Allan Saint-Maximin. In that mood Burnley simply couldn’t handle him, made the wrong decisions largely in fear of knowing what he can do, defenders drawn to ASM allowing Murphy the free shot, then backing off from the halfway line right inside their own box in the hope of getting numbers back to contain the French winger, only to allow him far too close to the goal in the process which gave the chance for ASM to score himself.

Steve Bruce gave his verdict on what we had all witnessed AND the bigger picture, as he sees it:

“I will say it was a tactical masterclass [bringing on Allan Saint-Maximin and Callum Wilson].

“They have had big injuries.

“You see what we have missed and it is not rocket science, we need our best players [on the pitch].

“It has been difficult with our injuries and you can see what Allan Saint-Maximin brings to the team, we have missed that bit of quality and excitement.

“To be missing your top players constantly, it affects teams.

“Second half we were a different animal and we can improve of course but it [having your best players on the pitch] is there for everyone to see.

“We can’t get carried away but back to back wins [it wasn’t, Newcastle only got a draw against Spurs] in the Premier League and it sets us up nicely.

“We have got some tough challenges but this [winning imaginary back to back wins] helps.

“Let’s hope our [best] players stay fit.

“As good as I think I am, I need our best players .

“To come and win here is a big result for us.

“Burnley are very good and for me Sean Dyche doesn’t get enough praise.

“We have been without them [Allan Saint-Maximin and Callum Wilson] for so long, you can see what they bring.

“We know that when we have people like them in the team, the impact it has.

“Without our biggest and best players it has been a struggle.”

I find it astonishing, incredible, amazing…no not Steve Bruce’s ‘tactical masterclass’ in making the 57th minute substitutions.

Instead, I ask the question as to exactly how has Steve Bruce got to own this total reliance on Allan Saint-Maximin as a positive???

The NUFC Head Coach takes press conference after press conference and effectively says / claims…’How on earth can I be expected to win any games with this bunch of losers when I’m missing my best players (basically, Allan Saint-Maximin)?’

The media slavishly just repeat this without question, rather than you know, actually do their job and question what Steve Bruce is saying.

When it comes to his best attacking players…

Steve Bruce has had Miguel Almiron in the matchday squad for all but two of the thirty one Premier League squads so far.

Steve Bruce had Callum Wilson available for all but one of the Premier League matches until Chelsea away on 15 February 2021, Wilson now having missed only eight of the thirty one PL squads.

Whilst even Allan Saint-Maximin has been available for almost 60% of Premier League squads, named in 18 of the 31 so far.

You would think this was some kind of Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar trio at their peak that Newcastle United / Steve Bruce had been missing the entire season.

In essence, the entire attacking plan for Steve Bruce continues to be, give the ball to Allan Saint-Maximin and here’s hoping he does something AND if ASM isn’t available to play, we all just accept that the rest of the entire Newcastle United squad are incapable of providing a team of eleven players who can manage to carry any decent goal threat.

This isn’t a new thing, just look at these stats ahead of yesterday’s win over Burnley, the stats date for these past two seasons, all 68 Premier League matches since Allan Saint-Maximin and Steve Bruce arrived at St James Park:


Played 35 Won 14 Drawn 8 Lost 13 Points 50 Goals For 43 Goals Against 49


Played 33 Won 4 Drawn 11 Lost 18 Points 23 Goals For 25 Goals Against 59

As you can see, massive differences in every area.

With Allan Saint-Maximin starting in Premier League matches, Newcastle United average per match – 1.43 points, 1.23 goals for, 1.40 goals against.

Without Allan Saint-Maximin starting in Premier League matches, Steve Bruce and Newcastle United average per match – 0.70 points, 0.76 goals for, 1.79 goals against.

No wonder, Newcastle fans perceive Steve Bruce’s entire attacking plan to consist of give the ball to Allan Saint-Maximin.

When you look at the stats above, Steve Bruce in his first 68 Premier League matches (all 38 last season, first 30 this season before Burnley away) only winning four times when Allan Saint-Maximin hadn’t started.

These are those four matches that Steve Bruce managed to win (before yesterday) without Allan Saint-Maxiin starting:

21 December 2019 – Newcastle 1 Crystal Palace 0

27 November 2020 – Crystal Palace 0 Newcastle 2

12 December 2020 – Newcastle 2 West Brom 1

30 January 2021 – Everton 0 Newcastle 2

When you then consider that the win at Palace was due to two goals in the last two minutes, the West Brom one Gayle getting the winner eight minutes from time, the Palace one Almiron scoring seven minutes off full-time, then even Everton away thanks to two goals in the last seventeen minutes.

Not a single Premier League match have Newcastle United won convincingly without Allan Saint-Maximin starting.

Very ironic that arguably what turned out in the end to be a fifth PL win without ASM starting and arguably most convincing of these past 21 months, was solely due to Allan Saint-Maximin!

The story of Steve Bruce and Allan Saint-Maximin in their time with Newcastle United, most definitely proves that fact can be stranger than fiction.

A clueless Head Coach so totally reliant on one player and not having the faintest idea how to try and score goals and / or win a match when he (Allan Saint-Maximin) isn’t playing…yet the overwhelming majority of the media can’t see anything wrong with this scenario!!!

Instead massively sympathetic to the supposedly impossible position Steve Bruce repeatedly finds himself in.


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