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Mike Ashley refusal to invest at the back will cost Newcastle United dearly based on this

4 weeks ago

The refusal of Mike Ashley to allow sensible realistic investment in this Newcastle United squad, looks set to cost NUFC dearly.

Certainly based on what we saw today as Newcastle kicked off the season against West Ham.

The defending looking a shambles much of the time.

Rafa Benitez took a collection of pretty average players and made a relatively outstanding defensive line out of them. In 2017/18 and 2018/19, each of the two seasons saw only six Premier League clubs concede less goals than Newcastle United.

With the same group of players /defenders, Steve Bruce turned them into the fifth worst last season. In 2020/21 only two clubs other than the very bottom two conceded more than Newcastle United.

When your team struggles to defend and always looks like conceding, it will repeatedly mean that no matter how well the likes of Wilson and ASM play and score / create, Newcastle United will struggle to win many matches.

That is what a quality manager does, makes average players look far better when moulded into an effective cohesive unit.

Anybody can send out the likes of ASM, Almiron and Wilson and they are capable of turning it on. Almiron and especially ASM get the ball and know what to do, same with Wilson once the ball reaches him within sight of goal.

However, in both midfield and defence it is a different matter. Steve Bruce’s tactical genius tending to simply amount to telling his two central midfielders to stay back and act as extra defenders the majority of time.

Steve Bruce has been allowed £125m+ net investment in the two years one month he has had the job and yet apart from relying on ASM magic and Wilson’s finishing, the team is far worse now than when Rafa had to do everything on such a tight (at times non-existent) budget.

Poor managers such as Bruce need to be given ready made better players, such as Wilson and ASM. He isn’t capable of turning average players into much improved individuals.

Jacob Murphy has some ability going forward but can’t defend, whilst on the other side Ritchie turns 32 next month and looked a liability today. He isn’t good enough to play that left wing-back role as first choice and I fear  Steve Bruce has wasted £15m on Jamal Lewis, he hasn’t started a single game since February. Whether he is capable of better at NUFC we will probably never find out, certainly not under Bruce.

Fernandez is decent but needs better quality around him, Krafth is not a Premier League player and Ciaran Clark should have been shipped out this summer to a Championship club as he’s seen better days.

As for playing Jonjo Shelvey today…he is a total liability when it comes to protecting his defence. Missing the vast majority of pre-season and only getting 76 minutes in late friendlies, he was even worse than normal for me, when it came to getting about the pitch. Especially in the second half as West Ham dominated and scored another three goals before Brucey’s favourite was subbed.

It isn’t all doom and gloom because Newcastle United have got some good players BUT they have a hopeless manager (Head Coach) and a lot of average players who need to have a better plan than Bruce is capable of coming up with.

Only 16 more days until the transfer window closes and at least two or three more quality signings needed, as sadly Mike Ashley will never ship Steve Bruce out, at least not whilst he continues to do as he’s told and read from the script in press conference after press conference.

Stats from BBC Sport:

Newcastle 2 West Ham 4 – Sunday 15 August 2pm



Wilson 5, Murphy 40

West Ham:

Cresswell 18, Benrahma 53, Soucek 63, Antonio 66

Possession was West Ham 53% Newcastle 47%

Total shots were West Ham 18  Newcastle 17

Shots on target were West Ham 9 Newcastle 3

Corners were West Ham 6 Newcastle 7

Referee: Martin Atkinson

Newcastle United:

Woodman, Murphy, Krafth (Sean Longstaff 84), Fernandez, Clark, Ritchie, Shelvey (Fraser 70), Hayden, Almiron, Saint-Maximin, Wilson (Joelinton 85)

Unused Subs:

Gillespie, Gayle, Schar, Lascelles, Lewis, Hendrick

Crowd: 50,673 (3,000 West Ham)

(Newcastle 2 West Ham 4 – Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Sunday’s demoralising defeat – Read HERE)

(Newcastle 2 West Ham 4 – It’s not how you start it’s how you finish – Read HERE)


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