Steve Bruce seems convinced that having fans at St James’s Park would be a real boon for Newcastle, but he may have misjudged the mood of their supporters…
Newcastle didn’t lose at the weekend. They got a draw against Fulham, who had ten men, but not losing is not losing.
It was the eighth time they have not lost in the Premier League this season, with five victories and three draws to their name. They’re in 12th place, eight points clear of the relegation zone and with a game in hand over most teams around them.
All of that paints a pretty satisfactory picture of a team that seems constantly in some form of chaos, that can only realistically expect a middle-bottom half finish from most seasons.
And yet, things are not exactly sparkling at St James’s Park, largely because the football they play under Steve Bruce is so grimly functional.
Daniel Storey expanded on this theme on this week’s Totally Football Show:
“There are moments or periods in games that seem to crystallise supporters’ views on the team and the manager, for better or worse.
“Newcastle played 34 minutes against a team in the bottom three, with ten men, having four shots and were pretty lucky that Karl Darlow made an excellent save to keep it at 1-1.
“It feels to me that Callum Wilson is leading that team a lot more than Steve Bruce is. Without him they’d be in serious, serious trouble.”
“It just feels like it’s breaking. Bruce said recently that “it would be really good to have the fans in the stadium cheering us on and we would’ve got over the line.” But I just thought he’s really misjudged the mood among Newcastle supporters if he thinks having them in the stadium would be a helpful thing.
“I think he’s pretty lucky they’re not there, because they would voice their pretty clear displeasure after most home games.
“They beat West Brom, they beat Crystal Palace, they will probably be fine this season. But ‘being fine’ slightly plays against Bruce, because it means there it means there is room to play a different style of football, and he doesn’t seem to want to do that.”
Sasha Goryunov added: “It’s still amazing that they managed less possession against a team with ten men.”
Newcastle face Brentford in the Carabao Cup quarter-finals this week, and while facing a side in the division below should provide a little respite, it won’t with these opponents.
“They’ll give Newcastle a proper test,” said Dom Fifield. “In fact, look at Newcastle’s next three games: Brentford, Manchester City and Liverpool. Oof.”
Would Brentford be the favourites for this game? “Yes. The way they play football – inventive, incisive, if they get going they will be very hard to stop.”
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