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Opinion

Steve Bruce promises this change of direction but can we seriously believe him?

6 months ago
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I must admit, like the rest of you, there have been any number of times this season (and last) when I have doubted what Steve Bruce has said.

When it comes to talking about matches (that we have all seen!), Steve Bruce giving us a very distorted account of what has happened.

Even if the other team has had dozens of chances and dominated the game, very much in the style of Carver and Pardew, this NUFC Head Coach willing to claim that if Newcastle had taken their one chance then everything would have been different etc etc.

We haven’t had much of the sublime but plenty of the ridiculous from Steve Bruce, during a run of only two wins in twenty one matches he actually claimed he had been receiving sacks of fanmail through the post, telling him he was doing a great job and to ignore the ‘small unrepresentative bunch of keyboard warriors’ who had been giving him grief (Translation – Pointing out how pathetic his tactics, formation and team selection have been and the results woeful).

In his latest press conference on Friday, Steve Bruce came out with a bizarre tale of how he had taken his dog to a fireworks display and it had ended up running away, Bruce thanking social media for helping to return the dog.

However, on Friday, admitting he had taken his dog to a fireworks display was actually not the most bizarre thing Steve Bruce came out with.

Instead it was…

Steve Bruce – 30 April 2021:

“If we can get Joe Willock for next year, he won’t be a super sub.

“He will be playing.

“We are delighted for him, he has had quite an unbelievable few weeks.

“To score the equaliser against Tottenham, to score against West Ham, then to go to Anfield and do it again, is quite remarkable.

“I am pleased for Joe.

“He has got the football world talking about him and it was key for him to come here and show what he has got.

“We would love to keep him.

“But that is obviously a conversation we have to have and we need to respect Arsenal too.

“He’s 21 years old, so he ticks all the boxes as far as I’m concerned.”

Hmmm, so Joe Willock ‘ticks all the boxes’ and yet can’t get a game for this current very average Newcastle team?!! A very average team that has a very much below average central midfield, currently consisting of Jonjo Shelvey and Sean Longstaff.

Longstaff still struggling to get anywhere close to the form he showed alongside Isaac Hayden when first making his mark in the early months of 2019, plus a pedestrian Shelvey who rarely breaks into a trot and rather than making an effort to influence things up front, is wandering around ever deeper on the pitch.

This is what has actually happened with Joe Willock…

Made a scapegoat after the defeat at Brighton and dropped (instead of Shelvey…) for the Tottenham match. Given only 11 minutes Willock came on and saved Steve Bruce with an 85th minute equaliser.

Left out once again for Burnley and despite a woeful performance from the starting eleven, especially the midfield, left on the bench all game. ASM saving Bruce instead that time from the subs bench.

Left out once more against West Ham, clueless negative Steve Bruce tactics when two up against ten men West Ham saw the Hammers come back and score twice. Joe Willock given only ten minutes this time but within seconds had done what the other midfielders were incapable of, getting into the box and scoring the winner.

After the game, Joe Willock said that Steve Bruce had told him he wasn’t being selected because he was ‘not doing enough to start at the moment’, you literally couldn’t make it up.

It gets worse, the match at Liverpool and Willock yet again left out. The Scousers dominate the game and the chances, with ASM giving Newcastle some threat on the break, but yet once more the midfield a poor second best. The loan midfielder yet again brought on and scoring a great 95th minute equaliser when breaking into the box in the final seconds and putting the ball in the back of the net. Winning Newcastle the most unlikely of points.

So when Steve Bruce promises this change of direction, how can we seriously believe him?

He doesn’t think Joe Willock deserves a place at the moment when the competition is Jonjo Shelvey and Sean Longstaff…so how can Steve Bruce claim that his plan is for Willock to be a sure starter and somebody to build his team around, if he signs permanently this summer???

When something doesn’t make sense, then it is pretty much always a lie.

Isaac Hayden would normally be first midfielder on the team, back from injury he would be starting, so is Steve Bruce saying that he will then suddenly play Joe Willock ahead of golden boy Shelvey and Sean Longstaff? If so, why isn’t he doing it now?

Personally, I don’t think Mike Ashley has any intention of allowing Newcastle to compete for Joe Willock this summer and Steve Bruce only too happy to muddy the waters for his boss. It still doesn’t explain though why he refuses to play Willock now.

When we get to next Friday and Leicester away, it will be seven weeks since Willock started a game, he will have had only around 40 or so minutes as a ‘super sub’ saving Steve Bruce’s bacon in that time period.

Steve Bruce with ‘we would love to keep him’ and yet won’t play Joe Willock…

I think this is a classic case to be honest of how clueless Steve Bruce is, when it comes to handling quality players and getting the best out of them.

The first seventeen PL games this season saw Steve Bruce name Miguel Almiron on the bench in eight of them, quite amazing, Bruce would play the likes of Jeff Hendrick instead of the Paraguayan, including that shocking defeat at Sheffield United, Hendrick stayed on for the full game and Almiron didn’t even get off the bench despite Newcastle losing 1-0!

Steve Bruce hasn’t got a clue how to get the best out of Miguel Almiron and it is a similar case with Joe Willock.

We need rid of Steve Bruce but instead I can see Willock definitely not signing in the summer and Almiron very likely to leave. This summer should be a case of belatedly getting rid of Shelvey, move the likes of Hendrick out as well, then use the saved wages and any transfer fees to put towards buying Joe Willock.

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