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Opinion

Steve Bruce gives demoralising update on remainder of Newcastle United transfer window

4 weeks ago
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Steve Bruce watched on as his Newcastle United players produced a mixed bag on Sunday.

The flair of Allan Saint-Maximin lit up the first half, Callum Wilson reminding us that he is a Premier League level predator, whilst Jacob Murphy provided a real bonus when popping into the box from his wing-back position to give Newcastle a half-time lead.

ASM providing creativity and Callum Wilson scoring, almost getting a second out of nowhere with a clever backheel.

However, West Ham had almost scored in the opening seconds, created chances and scored once in the opening half, could / should have had more.

The second half there was no doubt about that as a contest, West Ham completely dominant, scoring three goals whilst Newcastle failed to have a single effort on target.

Conceding four at home to a mediocre opposition is worrying, even more worrying is that it could easily have been far worse.

Aside from the obvious positives at the top end of the pitch, reality is that Newcastle United were pretty much entirely relying on players in midfield and defence who have been at the club four years or more, most of them still at the club having been around when promotion was achieved in 2016/17.

A clear case of needing new signings to improve the situation…?

In the aftermath of the collapse and 4-2 defeat to West Ham, Steve Bruce asked if there would be any further signings before the transfer window closes:

“Possibly.

“I still think that there are a lot of clubs who will do a lot of work in the next few weeks I would have thought.

“I have always said that when you are in the loan market, then you have got to be patient, because you’ve got to wait.

“We have been patient with Joe [Willock] so look, let’s see what becomes available.

“If something becomes available then we will try and act.

“I can go back to Jetro Willems, how well he did as a loan signing, Joe being a loan signing as well did fantastic, so we will see what develops.”

Honestly, you would think that Newcastle United were in one of two situations.

Either a successful club with an established set of players, difficult to find the odd signing who could improve it.

Or alternatively, not one of the elite who are striving desperately to be better and who have already made five or six promising signings in this transfer window.

Neither of those of course are Newcastle United.

Yes we are all relieved that Joe Willock has eventually arrived BUT in all honesty, it was a total shambles. Steve Bruce kept going on throughout week after week of the transfer window about Newcastle waiting for Arsenal to make a decision.

Once Joe Willock eventually was bought on the 66th day of the transfer window, it became clear that the previous 65 days had been wasted with Newcastle waiting on a loan deal that Arsenal were never in a million years going to offer. The Gunners are on a major team rebuilding job of their own after consecutive eighth place finishes (Steve Bruce has never finished in the top nine of the Premier League in his entire management career) and were always going to either keep Joe Willock, or sell him to help offset their spending on signings of their own.

This was no doubt made clear to Mike Ashley and Steve Bruce time after time by Arsenal but they chose to ignore it, as though Newcastle had all the time in the world when it came to preparing for the new season.

The reality of course was that we saw that opening day match descend into an utter mess as Newcastle collapsed, Joe Willock not available due to his late arrival, plus of course having missed the entirety of NUFC’s pre-season.

For me, if the eventual NUFC offer had gone in at the start of the transfer window, Joe Willock would have become a permanent signing ten weeks ago, had a full pre-season with his Newcastle teammates, then just possibly Newcastle United might not have had such a disastrous opening day of the season. Joe Willock if you remember scored the winner against West Ham in April at St James Park…

Do Newcastle United need more signings?

Well, you only need to look back at what Steve Bruce was saying ahead of this transfer window, confidently talking of bringing in three or four quality signings, that this Newcastle United squad needed.

We are now on day 72 of the transfer window, 12 more until it closes, Steve Bruce talking about ‘possibly’ more signings arriving, though making clear that if they do so, they will almost certainly be loan deals.

Bruce’s big defensive target was Kristoffer Ojer, the Celtic centre-back signing for Brentford after Mike Ashley refused to compete with the promoted club.

Attention then switched to Axel Tuanzebe, the Man Utd central defender going to Villa instead because Newcastle wouldn’t pay the loan fee.

Steve Bruce wants to sell this idea that the longer you wait to make loan signings, the better the chance you have of getting quality additions. The Newcastle United Head Coach putting forward the case of Joe Willock.

Yes, Joe Willock turned out to be a great loan signing BUT it was a total fluke. Mike Ashley allowing no signings to be made in January 2021, until the run extended to 11 games with nine defeats and two draws, even the NUFC owner allowed a single loan signing. A case of looking to see what was left and Joe Willock one of those not yet approached by any other Premier League club. The midfielder having made 40 Premier League appearances and scored one goal, yes he turned out to be a brilliant addition but I don’t think anybody was more surprised than Steve Bruce! Indeed, in the 17 Premier League games after he was signed, Steve Bruce only started Joe Willock 11 times. In his spectacular run of seven scoring games in row at the end of last season, Joe Willock actually had to come off the bench in three of the seven games to score. Steve Bruce at times playing the likes of Hendrick and Joelinton in his team whilst leaving Joe Willock out!

To put it mildly, there is no carefully prepared recruitment plan at Newcastle United, no well thought out preparations of if this happens we will do this and so on. Indeed, Mike Ashley actually furloughed the entire Newcastle United recruitment team in 2020, meaning that whilst furloughed they could do zero work in preparing for last summer’s transfer window.

For Mike Ashley it has always been make it up as you go along at Newcastle United, live transfer window to transfer window, season to season, hope for the best, get away with spending as little as possible, especially when you have a manager such as Rafa Benitez who has the audacity to think he has a better eye for a player than the likes of Ashley, Nickson and Charnley.

Newcastle United had the fifth worst defensive record last season and started this season conceding four at home against an average team, whilst up front they were almost entirely dependent on ASM for creativity and Wilson for a goalscoring threat, until Joe Willock came in late and showed something he’d never previously suggested he had it in him.

We have faith and / or hope in the likes of ASM, Wilson and Willock BUT other new signings are desperately needed as soon as possible, not just before the window closes.

Steve Bruce’s words give me minimal / no confidence that what needs to be done will be done, I hope he and Mike Ashley prove me wrong.

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