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Steve Bruce cunning Newcastle United plan – Just this one small fatal flaw in it…

4 weeks ago

Steve Bruce said there had been ‘meticulous’ planning that had gone into the 4-1 hammering at Old Trafford.

That response coming after the Head Coach was quizzed as to why after only two weeks of the season and terrible results, he had gone on holiday to Portugal instead of spending the whole two week international break preparing his team.

The ‘meticulous’ planning had happened in the second week according to Steve Bruce, which appeared to indicate four days (Tuesday to Friday…inclusive) of (meticulous) preparation before facing Manchester United.

Watching the Leeds match last night, it made me wonder exactly how much ‘meticulous’ planning had been needed to come up with that Steve Bruce cunning plan?

My guess would be, about the same kind of time it takes for me to ‘cook’ my daily lunchtime pot noodle (they are lush these days!), my thinking time as the kettle boils.

The only (well, one of countless ones really) fatal flaw in this Steve Bruce cunning ‘plan’ last night, was that it is complete boll.cks. Which it is every time that Brucey uses it.

When I am considering the Steve Bruce set up and just generally everything he has done at Newcastle United these ludicrous 26 months, I can’t help but feel like Rowan Atkinson’s character in the absolute classic Blackadder First World War series, as Baldrick comes up with his own latest ‘cunning’ plan.

As for our very own Baldrick, the Steve Bruce likeness to the classic comic creation is simply uncanny.

Last night’s brilliant idea of sitting back and soaking up pressure then hitting Leeds on the counter-attack, had one fatal flaw…that to do this effectively / successfully you need a team, especially a midfield and defence, that is very tight and solid and doesn’t allow itself to get passed through and cut open.

That though is exactly what does happen! Match after match, when Newcastle United adopt this Bruce ‘tactical’ approach.

A typical game sees Steve Bruce set the team up very defensively and attempt to soak up pressure, with the idea presumably of then springing into the counter-attack and punishing the opposition. However, so little pressure is put on the opposition and they are allowed to travel so deep into our half, that even if possession is then occasionally won back, it is invariably around Newcastle’s own penalty area. Breaking from there and creating chances is far far less likely than if you are winning back possession just inside the half you are defending.

Instead, the inevitable happens far more often than not, instead of Newcastle catching the opposition out by breaking on the counter and scoring the first goal, instead the overwhelming domination and pressure gifted to the opposition sees them scoring first, often with NUFC’s defensive frailties playing a major part in it.

Plan B is then unleased, which is also plan A, give the ball to Allan Saint-Maximin and hope he does something to get Newcastle back into the match.

At home, at St James Park, especially now in front of a 50,000+ crowd, doing this is even more inexplicable.

When you look at the stats you do have to wonder why this cunning plan is used time and time again, a bit like Captain Blackadder questioning why the brave troops are ordered time and time again to climb out of the trenches and walk very slowly towards the heavily fortified German lines and machine guns.

Newcastle United have only kept one clean sheet in the Premier League in 2021 at St James Park, that is one clean sheet in what will be ten months (next home game isn’t until Spurs on Sunday 17 October). That sole 2021 home clean sheet kept against a woeful already relegated Sheffield United in a 1-0 victory in May. Newcastle actually only winning three Premier League games at St James Park in what will be over 10 months, by the time that Tottenham match comes around. The two other wins, 3-2 against Southampton and West Ham, only coming about due to very helpful contributions from the those visitors, the Saint gifting three first half goals, whilst the Hammers gift wrapped a 2-0 lead and one man advantage – which still needed a very late Willock winner after he came on as a sub.

So what is the alterative to this Steve Bruce 23 years of management in the making cunning plan?

Well, certainly against Leeds whose defending isn’t great, certainly against a Leeds who aren’t great defending and were relying on a makeshift backline due to numerous players missing, surely we had to get up the pitch and pressure them as high as possible? As we saw last night, Leeds will regularly give up possession at the back and give up chances, if put under any decent pressure.

For my money, Newcastle should have pushed right up on them with the pacey Gayle who is very good at pressing, in the starting eleven, then along with ASM, Almiron and Willock, force those Leeds defenders and midfielders into making difficult decisions one after the other. Their defenders will give the ball away and that I think is our strength, if we have one, the likes of ASM and Almiron winning the ball in high positions and running direct towards goal.

I reckon last night (especially with the team Leeds had out and their start to the season) and Southampton would both be easily ranked in our five most winnable games of the season and yet we have been so so lucky to get a draw after both visiting teams dominated most of the respective games and deserved to win.

Steve Bruce is operating under some kind of a delusion that luck has been passing him by this season, well Steve, I think you need to reassess, reality is that you have been very LUCKY to now be sitting here on two point, especially when also denying two possible relegation rivals full points.

Sadly, there appears to be zero chance of Mike Ashley changing his willing puppet, so we are left with hoping Steve Bruce will bring about the necessary changes himself. It is the (lack of) hope that kills you.

Stats from BBC Sport:

Newcastle 1 Leeds 1 – Friday 17 September 8pm



Saint-Maximin 44


Raphinha 13

(In brackets the first half stats)

Possession was Leeds 65% (65%) Newcastle 35% (35%)

Total shots were Leeds 21 (13)  Newcastle 17 (7)

Shots on target were Leeds 9 (5) Newcastle 7 (3)

Corners were Leeds 5 (4) Newcastle 4 (1)

Referee: Mike Dean

Newcastle United:

Darlow, Manquillo (Krafth 81), Hayden, Lascelles, Clark, Ritchie, Sean Longstaff, Almiron (Fraser 62), Willock, Saint-Maximin, Joelinton (Murphy 90+1)

Unused Subs:

Gillespie, Schar, Lewis, Hendrick, Fernandez, Gayle


50,407 (3,200 Leeds)

(Steve Bruce says he will continue to keep out the noise and keep his dignity – Read HERE)

(Newcastle 1 Leeds 1 – Match ratings and comments on all the NUFC players – Read HERE)

(Marcelo Bielsa gutted after Newcastle 1 Leeds 1 – It’s a game we should have won – Read HERE)

(Newcastle 1 Leeds 1 – Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Friday’s draw – Read HERE)


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