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Steve Bruce takes Newcastle United into relegation zone with clueless defeat at Wolves

2 weeks ago
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Wolves 2 Newcastle 1 – Saturday 2 October 3pm

Newcastle opened quite brightly but very quickly it became crystal clear that Wolves knew where the threat was very likely to come from. Conor Coady taking out Allan Saint-Maximin but somehow avoiding any kind of a card.

As the game settled down though, Wolves quickly began to dominate possession as Steve Bruce had his midfield drop deep, just in front of the back four.

The heavy rain not bothering the home side and on 20 minutes they were ahead, Jimenez rode a challenge from Sean Longstaff and with the Newcastle defence static and refusing to come out and challenge, the Mexican striker allowed to stride forward and slip the ball in behind the Newcastle defence on the right. Hwang Hee-Chan scoring from a relatively narrow angle with a really poor effort from Karl Darlow to try and stop it.

With Newcastle’s midfield so deep, Allan Saint-Maximin becoming increasingly isolated. Wolves able to double and at times treble up on him, the odd time he was getting the ball in the attacking half.

With negative tactics from Bruce despite going behind, a pattern emerged of Wolves possession and probing, whilst when Newcastle did get the ball, all too often it was aimless balls hoofed up the pitch and predictably ASM having no chance.

Approaching the half hour mark, Newcastle’s midfield so deep yet again, Moutinho able to stroll forward but his long range effort comfortably saved by Darlow.

With a third of the game gone, Joe Willock went down needing treatment and looked sure to be subbed. However, instead Steve Bruce allowed him to go back on…only for a clearly in pain Willock to lie down on 35 minutes and at last go off. Jeff Hendrick the replacement…

This looked like a game that was going to just go downhill ever further for Newcastle but then incredible luck in a two minute period remarkably got Newcastle back in the game.

Coming up to the 40 minute mark the ball was cut back from the left and Trincao only had Darlow to beat from 10 yards, with the keeper rooted to his line the Wolves man smashed it past him but the ball came back off the bar!

Two minutes later and Wolves created problems for themselves when failing to clear the ball out of defence. A ball played behind the defence saw keeper Malheiro de Sa come and win the ball but collide with Joelinton. After a number of scrambles where Wolves again failed to clear, the ball ended up with Hendrick outside the box and he smashed it towards goal. The Wolves goalkeeper belatedly realising he wasn’t getting a foul having ended up wide of his goal after the Joelinton collision, raced back across but was unable / unready to deal with Hendrick’s shot.

Quite ridiculously, Newcastle somehow going in level at half-time…maybe that Steve Bruce luck is really on its way back!

On the other hand, Bruno Lage absolutely furious that somehow Wolves weren’t ahead at the break.

A scrappy start to the second half but five minutes after the break, Ritchie sent Joelinton down the line when Wolves were expecting a long ball into the box. The Brazilian’s ball into the box got a touch from Clark that fortunately fell for ASM and from only six yards out he had to score, it was a class save from the Wolves keeper but should have really been 2-1 to NUFC and a very surprising away lead.

Just when it looked like Wolves were going to let frustration get the better of them, it was 2-1 just ahead of he hour mark.

A brilliant turn on the halfway line by Jimenez saw him elude Hayden and Longstaff, this time running at the Newcastle defence and putting in Hwang Hee-Chan inside the left hand side of the box. Fernandez slid in but the Wolves player struck it past him and Karl Darlow having a bit more reason this time as he was left watching the ball go in the opposite corner.

As Wolves looked so comfortable, Newcastle fans increasingly looking to the bench for both more attacking tactics and Dwight Gayle to come on. However, with the clock ticking down, a rare excursion up the pitch on 68 minutes saw Joelinton fouled some 25 yards out, Longstaff though seeing his free-kick blocked.

When a sub did come on 70 minutes, no Dwight Gayle, instead Murphy on for Manquillo.

With Newcastle going absolutely nowhere, eventually Gayle getting on the pitch for Almiron, getting 13 minutes , an improvement on the seven minutes Gayle got against Watford.

Changes of personnel but in terms of tactics, no real improvement in terms of attacking intent from Steve Bruce.

Matters not helped by the fact that Longstaff and Ritchie were so poor all afternoon on set-pieces.

All pretty clueless from bench and on the pitch, no ideas on how to get back into the game.

The final minute of injury time, we had the depressing sight of Allan Saint-Maximin defending deep in the left-back position against Raul Jimenez.

Final whistle and Newcastle United are now eight games into the season without a win, out of the League Cup and second bottom of the Premier League heading into this international break.

Remember though, Steve Bruce says we are making real progress this season…

Stats from BBC Sport:

Wolves 2 Newcastle 1 – Saturday 2 October 3pm

Goals:

Wolves

Hwang Hee-Chan 20, 58

Newcastle:

Hendrick 41

(In brackets the first half stats)

Possession was Wolves 52% (56%) Newcastle 48% (44%)

Total shots were Wolves 7 (5)  Newcastle 8 (2)

Shots on target were Wolves 3 (2) Newcastle 2 (1)

Corners were Wolves 5 (0) Newcastle 4 (2)

Referee: Graham Scott

Newcastle United:

Darlow, Manquillo (Murphy 70), Fernandez, Clark, Ritchie, Sean Longstaff, Hayden, Almiron (Gayle 77), Willock (Hendrick 36), Saint-Maximin, Joelinton

Unused Subs:

Gillespie, Schar, Lewis, Krafth, Fraser, Anderson

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