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Steve Bruce has now spotted this ‘minor’ flaw in his cunning plan

4 weeks ago
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Steve Bruce watched on as things fell apart on Sunday.

His cunning plan failing against West Ham.

The Hammers walking away with all three points and a couple of goals advantage, despite Newcastle having taken the lead twice.

So what went wrong?

Well, the problem is that this particular cunning plan is one that we have seen Steve Bruce use time and time again…and so often fail.

The plan on Sunday relied almost entirely going forward on give the ball to Allan Saint-Maximin and hope he does something.

Then as for stopping the opposition scoring…well, keep as many players as far back as possible and hope that West Ham don’t score, pretty much sums it up.

There is no big plan on how to create and score goals, beyond that individual brilliance of ASM and the instincts of Callum Wilson, which we saw to brilliant effect on the opening goal. However, with so much expected of ASM to do it all, it is then little surprise you end up with a goal like West Ham’s second equaliser, when the French winger was caught in possession on the halfway line trying to do too much. After all, that is what is expected and wholly relied on by Steve Bruce.

However, overall, the massive issue for Newcastle United, is one that has been with us from pretty much day one with Steve Bruce and even he has now spotted this ‘minor’ flaw in his cunning plan…

Steve Bruce:

“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 were always a threat and just after half-time, we had the chance to score again.

“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.”

Steve Bruce has now been here 25 months and the ever worsening ability of his team to be able to defend, is obviously not something that he thinks it is his responsibility!

Yes there may have been individual errors on Sunday but there was also a complete lack of an adequate game plan on how to both stop the opposition and effectively threaten the opposition. For all ASM’s trickery and Callum Wilson’s instincts, Fabianski only made one save and that was from Wilson’s clever backheel – creating a chance out of nothing.

In contrast, Freddie Woodman made a number of very good saves and the visitors had nine efforts on target to Newcastle’s three, scoring four of the nine.

Rafa Benitez was renowned at NUFC for spending ridiculous amounts of time drilling his defence, hour after hour on the training pitch to mould largely very average players into an effective unit. Not just the back four/five but also those in front of them, every player knowing his job. Jonjo Shelvey has been awful so often under Steve Bruce, the Head Coach’s favourite allowed to stroll around and yet always be first choice on the team sheet, even made captain in Lascelles’s absence!!! Shelvey was so poor, especially defensively, yesterday.

You could tell the players in one way resented this endless work on the training pitch BUT also appreciated that it then produced results. With Steve Bruce’s more relaxed approach and a lot more time off training for the players, is it any wonder that the players are happier in training in this respect BUT that it then leads to worse results on the pitch in terms of goals conceded.

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. Last season he had little clue in how to use the midfielder, starting him in only 11 of the 17 Premier League games after he arrived and just got incredibly lucky when Willock amazingly scored eight goals from only 17 shots / chances.

We need more than luck this season if Newcastle United aren’t going to end up conceding even more goals under Steve Bruce, leading to an inevitable relegation battle.

Stats from BBC Sport:

Newcastle 2 West Ham 4 – Sunday 15 August 2pm

Goals:

Newcastle:

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)

(3 Positives and 3 Negatives from Newcastle 2 West Ham 4 – Read HERE)

(Steve Bruce blames match officials for 4-2 home defeat to West Ham – read HERE)

(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)

(Mike Ashley refusal to invest at the back will cost Newcastle United dearly based on this – Read HERE)

(David Moyes has zero doubts – A ‘travesty’ if West Ham hadn’t beaten Newcastle United – Read HERE)

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