3 reasons why Steve Bruce is failing at Newcastle United

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.

Joe Linton

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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FA Cup Game of the Round: Arsenal 2-0 Newcastle United

The FA Cup took over from the Premier League for the last week as the 3rd round kicked off and that meant that Premier League clubs could partake. There were not many all Premier League clashes to take place but the one that did stand out was Arsenal v Newcastle United.

Even though both teams did make some changes, many players who ply their trade every week in the Premier League still played. Arsenal won the game 2-0 after an epic battle and the result would have given the Gunners a major confidence boost. Including their good league form Arsenal have now won the last 4 competitive games in a row.

Arsenal were the favourites going into the match and being at home only underlined that status and the Gunners who started with a strong team including Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang up front started better than the Magpies.

Indeed the first half was dominated by the Gunners who found seven good chances and 3 shots on target. Steve Bruce’s team were under pressure from the first whistle and managed zero shots on target in the first 45 minutes which summed up their game and tactics.

Newcastle woke up in the second half and created more chances but this continued to be Arsenal’s to lose and they really should have scored within the 90 minutes. With the game locked at 0-0 we went into extra time as the new rules state no replays at least for this season- however it is something we should expect to be the norm from now.

The game plan looked simple enough for Newcastle who had been the inferior team but had held on to a 0-0, they were going for the penalty shoot-out and riding their luck. And everything was going to plan for the visitors until the 19th minute of extra time when Arsenal finally broke the dead lock.

Of all the players to give the Gunners the lead it came down to youngster Emile Smith-Rowe who scored after being set up by Alexandre Lacazette. Lacazette has been in super form for Mikel Arteta’s side of late.

The goal came so late it seemed to demolish any plans Newcastle had of a penalty shoot-out and the final nail in the coffin was provided by Aubameyang 3 mins from the end. The striker who has been desperately lacking form latched on to an assist from Kieran Tierney to grab the winning goal and hopefully for him to reinstall some much needed confidence.

The win seemed more important for Arsenal who need to keep up their winning momentum and good form. As for Newcastle they need to get back to winning ways but they still look too good to get involved in a relegation battle. In this season and the way it has been going not having to play the extra cup games could benefit Newcastle and so they can fully concentrate on trying to finish as high as they can in the Premier League.

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Joelinton’s lack of goals are stopping Newcastle from claiming a European spot

As long as Newcastle keep doing what they are doing they won’t go down and would have had a decent enough season if unspectacular under manager and life long fan Steve Bruce.

However one cannot get away from the fact that the Magpies should be doing so much better, a top 7 team at least and trying to qualify for the Europa League. Of course you win, lose and draw as a team and no one wants to directly point the finger at one individual. But having said that surely there was more expected of Brazilian striker Joelinton?

Joelinton came in a flurry of media frenzy up in Newcastle, he’s South American and that brought back memories of the very entertaining if not volatile Faustino Asprillia, revered up here. It’s strange to think that Joelinton actually started the season well. He showed good speed, some technical skills and just when the fans were thinking ‘where are the goals’, he goes and gets the winner away to Tottenham of all teams- the same club that made the 2019 Champions League final. Not too bad.

But six months into the season he can be judged as a failure. That doesn’t mean his time in England is doomed, maybe he just needs readjustment to a different country and culture. Maybe his 2nd season will be HIS one. For now scoring just 1 goal this season is an utterly poor return on a player who cost Newcastle £40m last summer.

Maybe the problem lies though not so much with the player but with Newcastle and his former club Hoffenheim, after all it was the two parties who came to the agreement of £40m. That in itself isn’t a problem until you see the players stats.

For example he has never scored more than 8 league goals in a season and when he did it was for Austrian side Rapid Wien when he was on loan. One can imagine with all respect that football in the Austrian league is not of the highest standard. Even for Hoffenheim he managed just 7 goals in 29 league games. Plus why did no one at Newcastle see the alarm bells ringing given that Hoffenheim who had rated the striker so highly felt the need to loan him out to an Austrian league side?

So far he has 26 league goals in 7 seasons and that just won’t cut it. One doubts that he will suddenly become a star striker at 24 next season, and Newcastle fans can genuinely wonder why their manager did not look at buying another striker in the January transfer window. Had Joelinton scored for example another 10 goals, Newcastle would be in a great position now, instead this season as well as the player looks like a write off.

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Is Steve Bruce the next manager to be sacked after terrible start with Newcastle?

It’s been an awful start to the Premier League campaign for Newcastle United and surely manager Steve Bruce’s job is now on the line, after losing 5-0 to Leicester he is the 2nd favourite manager to be sacked in the Premier League.

With respect it was a real surprise, at least from the outside, that Bruce got the Newcastle job in the first place, he had failed at so many other clubs with poor win rates. It didn’t make sense to get him. But then again club owner Mike Ashley had other ideas. His former coach Rafa Benitez had given Ashley such a hard time, demanding players and more money be spent it did feel as if Ashley just wanted to get rid of him and bring in someone that would understand his philosophy better- enter Bruce.

Of course on the face of it Bruce’s appointment made some sense. Here was a man almost reaching his 60s who had plenty of experience as a Premier League manager and on top of that Newcastle is his club that he has supported since being a small kid when he used to sneak into games for free. In that Bruce has reached his pinnacle job and come full circle in his career, Ashley gave him that opportunity. Nostalgia aside though and Bruce seems like he is the wrong man to take the Magpies forward.

Bruce has won just 1 game all season as manager and even that came as a major shock as it was away to Tottenham in a match that ended 1-0 but showed that Newcastle under Bruce may at least have a good defensive set up for the future. Also it was a game where Joelinton scored in, the £40m Brazilian that most seem to agree was over valued. If Joelinton could score more goals and make more of an impact it would lessen the pressure on Bruce.

As it stands Newcastle are not bottom of the league but they are going that way and in the midst of it all the bookmakers who are hardly any mugs have made the Magpies massive odds on favourites to be relegated.

Newcastle’s fixture list hardly gets any easier for them too as in October alone they will have to face the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea, Wolves are also on the schedule and it is realistic to think that the club could up getting no points from those games.

At the same time Ashley has big  decisions to make as it is obvious that he gets along with Bruce and just wants a manager who will not disturb him and get on with the job. However Ashley’s hands may be tied, and Bruce’s days could be up in a few weeks if he isn’t able to change the current situation around.

The body language of his players say it all and Bruce has a major uphill struggle on his hands not be sacked from his beloved club.

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