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Steve Bruce hopes he’s making right decision with his team selection/formation v Burnley

5 months ago
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Seven days ago Steve Bruce changed half his outfield players and completely changed formation and tactics.

Many Newcastle United fans feeling that nobody was more surprised than Steve Bruce that he’d done something that helped bring about a much improved performance.

The mood of the fanbase very much that this was pure luck, as so often this season and last, the NUFC Head Coach has constantly made changes to personnel and tactics, without bringing about any improvement.

Reflecting on that 2-2 draw with Spurs, Steve Bruce actually claims it wasn’t a back five he played with, saying it was actually a back three of Krafth, Lascelles and Dummett. Bruce making clear that Murphy and Ritchie used in a more attacking role.

Who knows what the original actual plan was and whether it was just the fact that Tottenham were so poor on the day, repeatedly giving possession away and also Mourinho making the fatal mistake of going defensive to hold on for a 2-1 lead. With Newcastle having one of the very worst defensive records this season and with Harry Kane in such devastating form, Jose would have been far better going for the killer third goal. Which despite Mourinho’s negativity they actually almost did anyway, a break up the pitch seeing Kane hit the post and seconds later Willock equalising at the other end.

Newcastle couldn’t face a more different opposition this time, Burnley playing completely differently to Spurs.

Can Steve Bruce repeat his newly found skills of team selection and formation / tactics? Well, this season’s record doesn’t suggest so.

Newcastle United have won only seven Premier League matches and after six of them there was an instant back down to earth PL defeat, only after Palace away did Bruce’s team complete a follow-up win, very lucky to beat West Brom 2-1 at home.

Jamaal Lascelles is now set to be out for the rest of the season and wearing a protective boot due to a stress fracture but how many other changes will Steve Bruce make, both in terms of team selection and tactics, as Burnley look to feed their big physical strikers and get crosses in from the wings, with the excellent 21 year old Dwight McNeil a big danger.

Will Steve Bruce keep his back five (three?), the reality being that Ritchie and Murphy were arguably Newcastle’s two best players in those wing-back positions.

Allan Saint-Maximin available to start and with Callum Wilson also returning to the squad, you would imagine he has to find room for ASM and then does he risk Wilson straight away in the starting eleven?

Steve Bruce reflecting on the Spurs match as he also looks ahead to Burnley:

“It was more of a back three last week [against Spurs] rather than a five, with Jacob Murphy and Matt Ritchie.

“We got the balance just right last week and I was very pleased.

“However we did concede twice and one of them was an awful, awful mistake.

“That is the balance we have to get right and I have this conundrum every week…

“I hope I make the right decision [with team selection and formation v Burnley].

“I’m sure there were a few raised eyebrows [from Newcastle fans and neutrals] last week but the players played very well, and it certainly suited us against Tottenham.

“Certainly Matt Ritchie played his part and he is one of those characters who when you’re up against it, gives everything that he has got for the cause.

“I was delighted for him.

“One of the reasons we picked that side last week was to get the balance right, to get him in the team and he added an edge to us.

“He played very very well and the challenge now is to repeat it, do it again over these next six weeks.

“I was delighted with Matt and I’m glad he produced the kind of performance we know he’s capable of.”

Steve Bruce talking as though it was a carefully thought out plan to get the likes of Matt Ritchie back in the team but if that’s the case, it does beg the question of why the Head Coach had almost totally ignored the likes of Murphy and Ritchie for so long, then suddenly throw so many underused players in at the same time, with Gayle, Krafth and Sean Longstaff also recalled.

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