The wrong questions are being asked at Newcastle United
Another season for Newcastle United.
A fifteenth under Mike Ashley.
A third with Steve Bruce.
I keep seeing the same Newcastle United questions asked, both ahead of this new 2021/22 season and now we have had that six goal ‘thriller’ at St James Park on Sunday.
Those questions tending to centre around where Newcastle United will finish in the bottom half of the table AND the media questioning…surely Steve Bruce has done as well as Rafa Benitez did, since he (Bruce) arrived in July 2019?
These are the wrong questions.
Pundits placing Newcastle United somewhere between 12th and 17th in their final 2021/22 table predictions is simply pointless. Last season summed up that the difference between those positions is so often coming down to ridiculously tiny margins. Newcastle were fortunate to play two clubs already relegated in their final two matches, those six points the difference between ending up 12th rather than 17th.
In contrast the gap between 12th and 11th last season was 10 points, whilst it was 14 points between 12th and 10th.
As for the lame questioning that claims surely Steve Bruce is doing as well as well as Rafa Benitez did, it isn’t exactly comparing like with like, when one manager actually made a profit on transfers during his 3+ years at Newcastle for Mike Ashley, whilst the other one has been allowed a £125m+ net spend in his 25 months (so far) at St James Park. Quite literally, Steve Bruce has been given the money to spend that Rafa Benitez out NUFC in a position to do so.
Questions that should be being addressed, are ones such as – if Steve Bruce doesn’t do something to address the number of goals conceded, can Newcastle United stay up? In the last four seasons, NUFC have conceded 47, 48, 58 and 62 goals in the Premier League. When you factor in four conceded at home on Sunday, plus it could easily have been more, where’s the change coming from?
The other two relegations under Mike Ashley saw Newcastle concede 59 and 62 goals in the Premier League, we have been in that kind of territory both seasons under Steve Bruce and this season could be far far worse, judged on Sunday’s mess.
Why aren’t journalists asking whether Steve Bruce is capable of leading this team to 50 points or more in the Premier League? Only once in these 14 / 15 years of Mike Ashley, have Newcastle managed this (2011/12). Bear in mind that Everton finished tenth last season with 59 points and you just see how deluded so many of these pre-season debates have been in the media about NUFC hopes.
The answer is of course NO when it comes to whether Steve Bruce can produce 50 points this season, with the more relevant one being can he put together 40 points?
I have grave doubts, unless the likes of Wilson, ASM and Willock can all stay fit and just do it themselves, ignoring Steve Bruce’s direction. It was only in the final five or six days of last season that Newcastle finally reached 40 points, so I wouldn’t be putting any money on it this time. Which is a massive worry after Bruce has had the benefit of £125m+ in net spending on the squad in these five transfer windows so far, yet zero sign of any improvement.
The Elephant in the room as well is, what’s to prevent another horrendous Bruce run of two wins in twenty one games as we saw mid-season in 2020/21? He was clueless then as to how to get out of that nosedive and simply having ASM, Willock and Wilson on the pitch, doing their thing, changed the narrative. Steve Bruce repeatedly blamed poor results on having just one or two key players injured, with only one signing (who was at NUFC for the second half of last season anyway) in this window, can we expect anything better this time?
We have a largely ageing squad (at least half of them will be in their thirties by the end of the season) and difficult to see how so many of those players will be improving at this stage of their careers.
The biggest question of all is, do you have any faith in Steve Bruce…and we all know the answer to that one.
By not sacking Steve Bruce AND not allowing the proper investment needed in the squad, Mike Ashley has yet again rolled the roulette wheel and left things up to chance.
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