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Opinion

Pure Steve Bruce desperation – Selection for Newcastle team v Watford

3 weeks ago
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Is it the last chance saloon for Steve Bruce?

I am certainly getting that feeling now we have got sight of his Newcastle team selection against Watford.

Steve Bruce was talking yesterday (Friday 24 September) about newly injured players who would definitely miss Watford…

The Newcastle United Head Coach announcing:

“We’ve got a couple of problems.

“Joe Willock picked up an injury in training this week unfortunately, and Jamaal Lascelles hurt his thigh, so they go onto the injured list which makes that about five or six we’ve got of our first team – not that healthy, I have to say.

“Joe’s was a complete fluke – unfortunately he kicked the ground and damaged the capsule in his toe, so he’ll not make this week and probably touch and go whether he makes next week as well.

“It’s how we adapt to it, how we get on with it.

“It’s why we have a squad of players, so let’s hope we can pick a team, get that right, and we can go and keep the performance the way it was against Leeds.”

The reality proving to be somewhat different when the Newcastle team and subs were announced at 2pm on Saturday:

Team: Darlow, Manquillo, Fernandez, Clark, Ritchie, Hayden, Sean Longstaff, Almiron, Willock, Saint-Maximin, Joelinton

Subs: Gillespie, Schar, Lewis, Hendrick, Krafth, Murphy, Fraser, Gayle, Anderson

After the team selection was announced, various NUFC journalists were reporting that Joe Willock (who was pictured on social media wearing a protective boot this week) had told Steve Bruce he would ‘give it a go’ today.

So I take it then that if Joe Willock ends up making the injury far worse and is stretchered off or whatever, it will be Joe Willock’s fault, not Steve Bruce’s…

It really is mental, as clearly before Friday’s training (after which Joe Willock said he’d give it a go) the former Arsenal midfielder hadn’t been training this week, instead walking around with a protective boot.

The big problem (well one of the many) with somebody like Steve Bruce, is that he will when in trouble, repeatedly take chances to try and somehow get a win in the short-term, but at same time risk the longer-term.

Only Friday it was Steve Bruce declaring ‘It’s why we have a squad of players…’, well Steve, what message does it give to those other squad players when you are prepared to risk Joe Willock, rather than giving one of the fully fit alternatives a go?

Surely any remotely decent manager would be at the most putting Joe Willock on the bench, hopefully not needing to use him but potentially give him a limited number of minutes if felt worth the risk.

So many people see Steve Bruce’s position as bullet proof BUT just maybe Mike Ashley has sent the message down the line, things need to improve, pronto!

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