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Opinion

Newcastle 2 Southampton 2 – Wilson and ASM not enough to save NUFC from Steve Bruce negativity

3 weeks ago
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Newcastle 2 Southampton 2 – Saturday 28 August 3pm

Difficult to guess what Steve Bruce’s cunning plan at the outset was today.

Unless that plan was to try and play for a 0-0 draw from the very first kick-off.

An embarrassing opening half hour seeing Newcastle sit back, allowing Southampton to completely dominate. The Saints to give them credit obviously played their part in that as well, as their manager Ralph Hasenhuttl showed far more enterprise than the incredibly negative Steve Bruce, at home against one of NUFC’s relegation rivals.

Those first 30 minutes seeing Southampton with eight shots and 70% possession, Newcastle without a single shot or corner in that first half hour. The only attacking plan appearing to be long hopeful / hopeless balls from the back.

That Saints pressure was finally halted, at least temporarily, when ASM got the ball and set off on a mazy run from his own half, eventually taken out just a couple of yards outside the box. A booking for Walker-Peters and Jacob Murphy putting the free-kick just over the bar but McCarthy in the Southampton goal had it covered.

Djenepo alone could have had a hat-trick in that first 30 minute period, with one chance he missed an absolute open goal from three yards out, somehow putting it over the bar. Adam Armstrong also not far away from scoring against his old club.

The final five or six minutes of the opening half did see Southampton give NUFC the chance to break a couple of times but it was the very final minute of the first 45 when Newcastle at last had an effort on target. A corner from the left side seeing a decent save by McCarthy from Wilson’s header.

Newcastle though very fortunate to go in at half-time on level terms and the boos as the whistle went told its own story, Steve Bruce a very lucky man not to be a couple of goals down considering the away side’s domination and number of times they’d got into threatening positions.

Just in case you wondered who the booing was aimed at, ahead of half-time we had heard chants of ‘We want Brucey out’ and ‘You don’t know what you’re doing’…which no doubt Steve Bruce heard as ‘Brucey Brucey give us a wave’ and ‘You’re doing a great job, keep on going’.

The lack of investment in the back five (including wing-backs) and central midfield shown up so clearly in that half, which when combined with the genius of Steve Bruce is a recipe for disaster.

Surely things had to improve after the break…

Allan Saint-Maximin did get a shot away early that didn’t miss by much, before Southampton once again got back on the ball. Adam Armstrong getting into the area and when his shot was blocked, the ball fell to Djenepo who was very unlucky to see his curling effort just go the wrong side of the post.

At least some improvement though from the home side, as Newcastle looked a but sharper and at least a little bit more prepared to press themselves.

Southampton then left gutted as Newcastle punished them for wasting so many decent situations.

A deep cross saw Jacob Murphy racing into the box and not picked up, his header across the six yard line seeing Callum Wilson finishing with a header of his own as he stooped to score.

Newcastle on top then for the next five minutes but so predictably, Steve Bruce then had his team retreating further and further back, inviting Southampton to attack. Leading to corners and efforts from outside the box for the visitors.

Then midway through the second period we saw goalscorer Callum Wilson replaced by Joelinton. Obviously not a change you would make put of choice…fingers crossed nothing serious.

Steve Bruce calling the retreat and…paying for it.

Murphy had shown the good attacking side to his game with the Wilson assist, however, Redmond skinned Murphy easily and his cross from the left was met by an unmarked Elyounoussi to force it home, Ritchie losing his man.

Allan Saint-Maximin always the man Newcastle looked for to drag them up the pitch and he did his best to do it throughout, especially after half-time.

Whilst Joe Willock operating mainly on the right, did pretty well going back as well as on the attack.

As we moved into the final five minutes and Newcastle ending up around their own box and allowing the Saints to dominate, the home fans voiced their displeasure.

ASM’s desperation to try and win the game, in marked contrast to Steve Bruce and seemingly the rest of the United team. Maybe they have just been Bruced?

Then…on 90 minutes…Allan Saint-Maximin scores!

ASM the one driving forward and after a shot was blocked, the French winger lashing the ball home.

Surely the winner…Adam Armstrong gets free in the box, Lascelles brings him down and penalty (after VAR intervention)!

James Ward–Prowse giving Freddie Woodman zero chance, putting it in the bottom corner.

Wilson and ASM had twice rescued Newcastle United from Steve Bruce’s negativity but you couldn’t claim Southampton didn’t deserve a point, if not all three.

That point taking Newcastle out of the bottom three, although they could still end up back in there heading into the international break depending on other results to come.

Yet again with Newcastle chasing goals, Dwight Gayle was once more completely ignored.

Southampton had even more possession in the second half…

Stats from BBC Sport:

Newcastle 2 Southampton 2 – Saturday 28 August 3pm

Goals:

Newcastle:

Wilson 55, Saint-Maximin 90

Southampton:

Elyounoussi 74, Ward-Prowse (pen) 90+5

(In brackets the first half stats)

Possession was Southampton 65% (63%) Newcastle 35% (37%)

Total shots were Southampton 22 (11)  Newcastle 10 (4)

Shots on target were Southampton 6 (3) Newcastle 5 (1)

Corners were Southampton 4 (1) Newcastle 4 (1)

Referee: Paul Tierney

Newcastle United:

Woodman, Fernandez, Lascelles, Schar, Murphy, Sean Longstaff, Almiron, Willock (Fraser 84), Ritchie, Wilson (Joelinton 67), Saint-Maximin

Unused Subs:

Gillespie, Clark, Lewis, Hendrick, Krafth, Manquillo, Gayle

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