By 90Min
September 30, 2019

Steve Bruce has lived up to expectations since taking charge at Newcastle. Or should that be lived down?

His appointment back in July was met with anger, disbelief and anguish by the Newcastle fans. They knew what was coming; now everyone else sees it too.

Under previous manager Rafael Benitez, the Geordie faithful were always confident that Newcastle would remain a Premier League outfit. Of course the squad was limited, and mid-table was the best that could be hoped for, but Benitez brought a sense of stability and know-how as to what was needed to get the best out of the group of players.

The football was not always attractive, with pundits regularly slamming Newcastle for not playing gung-ho attacking football against the top teams. Yet Benitez was just being sensible. He knew his side had to sit tight and take their opportunities when they arrived. 

It worked.

Newcastle finished 10th and 13th during his last two seasons at the helm, avoiding relegation fairly comfortably on both occasions.

There are some managers who simply know how to get the job done. For years we saw the likes of Sam Allardyce and Tony Pulis keep teams in the Premier League. The football was dreadful to watch, but they got results so they were somewhat vindicated.  

Chris Brunskill/GettyImages

Now we look at Bruce. Sunday's 5-0 defeat to Leicester was humbling, and it had been coming for quite a while. Newcastle were played off the park for much of their recent 0-0 draw at home to Brighton, and they were beaten 3-1 by Norwich earlier this season, in a result that flattered Newcastle, who were thankful for some wasteful finishing by the Canaries in the first half.

The side are still not playing attractive football. Yet now they are also getting soundly beaten on a regular basis. Therein lies the problem.

Bruce switched to a back four on Sunday. Needless to say, it did not work. It would be negligent to dismiss the fact that Newcastle went down to ten men late in the first half when Isaac Hayden was sent off. That clearly did not help matters. 

But were Newcastle really going to get back into the game even with him on the pitch though? 

Highly doubtful.

So now Bruce has three clear issues. His side are awful to watch. They are not getting results. Finally, he does not seem to know how to set up the team. 

With Benitez there was a clear plan, with Bruce there is not.

Matthew Lewis/GettyImages

Newcastle's next two games come against Manchester United and Chelsea. Even Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's lightweight attack will fancy bagging a few in that one, whilst Tammy Abraham will be licking his lips at the prospect of facing a struggling backline.

Bruce will likely be given time. Sacking him would cost Mike Ashley money, and we know he does not really like to spend that on Newcastle United. Yet things are going downhill; and fast. 

We may only be seven games into the season, but the signs are ominous. If things don't change then the club are heading in only one direction: back down to the Championship.

You May Like