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Michael Owen declares ‘Steve Bruce must be concerned’ with new season only days old

3 weeks ago
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Mike Owen sees major problems ahead for Steve Bruce and Newcastle United.

West Ham dominating Newcastle after a fairly even first half, with a defensive collapse seeing the Hammers score three times after the break whilst NUFC didn’t have a single effort on target in that second half.

Indeed, the scoreline could have been even worse, as Newcastle scored with two of just three efforts on target in the match, whilst West Ham created numerous decent opportunities and scored four from nine efforts on target. Freddie Woodman actually one of Newcastle’s best players as he helped keep the score down.

Looking ahead to this afternoon’s match against Aston Villa and indeed, the rest of the season, Michael Owen declaring: ‘Steve Bruce must be concerned though at how easy it was for West Ham to create chances against them.’

Last Sunday, Steve Bruce had this to say after the 4-2 collapse to West Ham:

“Defensively we have got to be better.

“It was a decent game in the first half but defensively we have to admit we have got to be better.

“We have to sharpen up defensively that’s for sure.

“Once we leave ourselves exposed, it then becomes difficult for us.

“Overall I was really pleased with a lot of it…but we have to be better defensively.”

The question has to be though, is Steve Bruce capable of turning around the situation?

He has had the same players Rafa Benitez had at his disposal plus then allowed to spend money on the defence, such as the £15m on Jamal Lewis, who Steve Bruce hasn’t given a single start to since February, indeed the £15m buy has only been on the pitch for six minutes in these past six months.

These are the totals of Premier League goals conceded since Newcastle United’s last promotion:

47 – 2017/18

48 – 2018/19

58 – 2019/20

62 – 2020/21

I don’t think you need to be a mathematical genius to see where this is heading under Steve Bruce, especially when then kicking off 2021/22 with four conceded at home against a decent but fairly average West Ham team.

The two relegations (so far) under Mike Ashley saw 59 goals conceded in 2008/09 and 62 goals in 2015/16. We have been in that kind of territory these last two seasons but due to the failings of other teams at the bottom (only 29 points needed to survive last season) and Mike Ashley allowing a now £125m+ net spend since Steve Bruce arrived, most of that on attacking players, it has just about papered over the cracks.

Attempting to simply outscore the opposition when you are conceding so many goals and only relying on ASM’s individual brilliance and Wilson’s attacking instincts, is no kind of cunning plan.

Even with Joe Willock’s addition to the squad, you just wonder what Steve Bruce will do.

Aston Villa lost 3-2 last weekend and were punished for a very slow start, going 3-0 down before waking up and new signings starting to gel, the better team in the second half and scoring twice against Watford but giving themselves too much to do.

Jack Grealish has gone but Villa have made some impressive looking signings, especially when it comes to attacking areas. Plus Grealish actually started less than two thirds (24 of 38) of Villa’s Premier League matches last season.

With and without him, Aston Villa finished only one place above Newcastle United but in reality it was a massive gulf. Ten points separated 11th and 12th, things very compacted at the bottom, with only six points separating 12th and 17th, Newcastle avoiding fourth bottom due to wins over already relegated Sheffield United and Fulham in the final week.

Aston Villa actually scored more goals (55 v 46) than Newcastle United last season AND conceded far less (46 v 62), with only four clubs conceding more than Newcastle.

Can Steve Bruce mastermind this improvement that is urgently needed at the back? One thing for sure, if you concede four at the back you won’t be winning too many matches, no matter what ASM, Willock and Wilson bring to the team.

Michael Owen predicting another defeat for Steve Bruce, which would leave him and his team pointless and towards the bottom of the table.

Hopefully the NUFC players can prove Owen wrong on this occasion.

Michael Owen speaking to BetVictor:

“It was a terrible start for Villa at Vicarage Road last week.

“Finding themselves 3-0 down just after the hour mark.

“The Jack Grealish move is bound to have unsettled the side and Dean Smith was not happy with the performance.

“They showed some signs of life though with those two late goals and new signing Leon Bailey looked a threat when he came on.

“Newcastle looked dangerous in the first half against West Ham last Sunday and could have scored more than the two they did.

“Steve Bruce must be concerned though at how easy it was for West Ham to create chances against them.

“After their disappointing away defeat, a game back at Villa Park is just what Villa need.

“I’m sure Steve Bruce would love to upset his old side.

“But I think Villa will have too much firepower and narrowly edge this one 2-1.”

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