Newcastle United are among the favourites to be relegated this season, this after finishing 13th with 44 points last season. The drop off has been significant and it seems that manager Steve Bruce is hitting a wall.
Bruce’s appointment did not go down well with fans of the club but he did seem to punch above his weight and only finished last season 1 point behind the total that Rafa Benitez had achieved the season before. That was an eyeopener in many ways and there was a belief that Bruce could do well at the club. Owner Mike Ashley saw Bruce’s appointment as a win-win situation given that Bruce was a long standing fan of the club and that Benitez was always asking for reinforcements, Ashley knew that Bruce wouldn’t ask so many questions and just get on with the job.
But this season Bruce’s Newcastle have been exposed and with just 9 games left to play for them they are only 2 points from the drop and in 17th place. The Magpies recent defeat to Brighton was huge. If the 3-0 score line wasn’t enough Brighton were a direct rival for survival and Graham Potter’s side have now moved 4 points clear of Newcastle.
So what has gone wrong with Newcastle, where Fulham could catch them and send the Magpies down, let’s take a look.
It doesn’t seem fair to blame one player for a teams failings and let’s make it clear Newcastle as a team are failing. But when a club are not getting the wins and not scoring goals eyes will always fall to who is up front. In this case the Magpies have Joelinton a player who broke the clubs transfer record for £40m.
Joelinton has been, up until now, one of the poorest signings in Premier League history. He has scored 3 league goals in 59 games for the club and seven overall from 70. Indeed since starting his career back in 2014 Joelinton has only scored 26 league goals overall. When Newcastle have needed the goals to make that difference Joelinton has been wanting on too many occasions.
The Graeme Jones factor
Newcastle needed to be shaken up and in January Steve Bruce brought in Graeme Jones who had worked previously with the Belgian national side and also Bournemouth as his assistant manager. Jones got to it and changed up tactics within the team and prepared them for the Everton game at the end of January. It is thought that Bruce wasn’t the happiest person at the club that Jones had stepped in in this way. However Newcastle played one of their best games of the season to beat Everton 2-0.
Since then Bruce has taken some of that power back and although it hasn’t been confirmed it’s possible that the two are not seeing eye to eye. Bruce is stubborn and playing his way and he is letting that blind him in how the club must make advancements.
Luck has run out
Every club needs some luck along the way but under Bruce Newcastle have had some decisions go there way and have been able to not play very well but escape with a last minute win or get a draw.
Take the Leeds United match earlier this season, true Leeds ran out 5-2 winners but at one stage Newcastle were well in the game and it was 2-2. However the club had been very poor that day and Leeds would have been wondering how the score line was so close. On that day Newcastle didn’t get away with it.
But how about even earlier in the season when Tottenham completely outplayed Bruce’s team and yet in the 90th minute the score was just 1-0 to Jose Mourinho’s team. Very late on in injury time Newcastle who had been very poor throughout the game were awarded a penalty, from which they scored from- and it was a disputed one at that. The penalty which ended the game at 1-1 was the clubs only shot on target the whole game.
It just seems that especially since the New Year that Newcastle’s luck has run out. Could they go down? The answer is a yes given their second half to the season form where from a possible 45 points they have earned just 10 and won just two times, scoring just 11 goals in that time. Judging on the last 15 games Newcastle would be in 19th place and have earned 2 points less than Championship bound Sheffield United which just underlines how problematic the clubs decline has been.
It looks like that final place will go down to the wire between Fulham and Newcastle, and it will be fascinating to see how this one plays out. As for Steve Bruce he will most certainly lose his job if the club are relegated but if they stay up, even by finishing in 17th place you get the feeling that his close friend and club owner Mike Ashley will be more than happy to keep Bruce on the payroll, at the dismay of the fans.
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