For the second game in a row, Steve Bruce made a big mistake with Newcastle’s Isaac Hayden against Leeds.
The 26-year-old inexplicably started at centre-back against Manchester United, but was unable to stop the returning Cristiano Ronaldo. He even received the blame for the Portuguese superstar’s second goal.
Bruce’s decision to play Hayden in defence made no sense, especially with Federico Fernandez and Fabian Schar sitting on the bench.
Incredibly, Bruce made the same mistake against Leeds on Friday night.
Yet again, Hayden was the right-sided centre-back in a back five. He played out of position, while two natural centre-halves sat on the bench twiddling their thumbs. This came weeks after Bruce claimed he doesn’t play players out of position…
But with the Magpies 1-0 down and playing incredibly poorly, a change was made.
Isaac Hayden mistake rectified
Midway through the first half, five at the back was abandoned.
The Magpies shifted to a 4-3-3 formation, with Hayden returning to his usual position. He sat in front of the defence, tasked with breaking up play.
And he did it to great effect. Moments after moving further up the pitch, he put in a typical crunching tackle that gave the crowd a huge lift.
He also made a crucial block at the end of the first half, denying Raphinha shortly after Allan Saint-Maximin’s equaliser.
Hayden looked much more comfortable in midfield, able to play his natural game in a formation that better suits him and his teammates.
It begs the question, why on earth did Bruce play him in defence in the first place? It’s hardly a ringing endorsement for the centre-backs out of the starting XI.
Yet again, another Steve Bruce mistake has been exposed.