Newcastle United fell to a 1-0 defeat against Arsenal in their first Premier League game of the season today, and fans are already bemoaning the tactics of manager Steve Bruce.
The game was a stale affair, with neither side creating many chances overall, however an unusual series of substitutions from Newcastle in the second half turned the game on it’s head.
Bruce took off an ineffective Jonjo Shelvey in the 54th minute with the match tied at 0-0, but bizarrely substituted the central midfielder for left-back Jetro Willems.
It was a decision which would prove costly.
Bruces’ poor communication skills were instantly highlighted for all to see as Willems began running up and down in midfield, pressing the Arsenal defence.
For some unknown reason, Willems seemed to think he was directly replacing Shelvey’s midfield position rather than playing in his natural defensive one.
Bruce was seen shouting in confusion from the side lines, screaming to his staff “What the f*** is happening?”.
Never the sort of thing you want to hear from the man in charge.
After two minutes of mayhem, Willems and make-shift left-back Matt Ritchie finally switched positions, Ritchie taking up the open role in midfield.
And unsurprisingly, the confusion appeared to effect Willems’ concentration.
Moments later he was caught sleeping as Paul Dummett played out a pass to the left hand side, allowing Ainsley Maitland-Niles to snatch the ball and drive up the right wing.
The youngster then teed up Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang with a well placed cross, allowing last year’s Golden Boot winner to finish with a neat chip.
It was one of the only real chances Arsenal created, and it came at the hands of Bruce’s tactics.
In response to the goal, he then took off another midfielder in Sean Longstaff, again strangely replacing him with non-midfielder Allan Saint-Maximin.
This left just Isaac Hayden as the only natural midfielder, as Matt Ritchie continued to drift into a left-wing position.
Almiron was then expected to come back into midfield in a swap with ASM, but looked lost and uncomfortable on the right-hand side.
It was chaotic, it was clumsy, and no-one really knew what was going on, particularly the players.
Unsurprisingly, they completely lost any of the rhythm they showed in the first half and were overrun by an Arsenal side who continued to show no attacking threat.
Newcastle fans believe it’s a sign of things to come, and they aren’t looking forward to the rest of the season.
Toon fans on Bruce tactics
Superb stuff from Geordie Guardiola there.
Shelvey off for Willems. Willems goes to LCM even though Bruce wants him LWB. Eventually goes LWB and then costs us a goal.
— NUFC 360 (@NUFC360) August 11, 2019
Thought we played well up to 50min.
The Bruce’s tactics really came into play.
Why name 2 CBs on your bench when you have 3 already in your line up?
No CM cover? Why was Ki not named? Willems looked like he didn’t have a clue what his role was. Long old season this. #nufc
— Ben Walker (@BenWalker1984) August 11, 2019
0-0 and comfortable.. Steve Bruce decides to take off a central midfielder for a left back, minutes later we go 1-0 down..
His next move is to take off another central midfielder for a winger leaving Hayden on his own in the middle for 20+ minutes 😳
Tactical genius 🤦🏼♂️#NUFC
— Tom (@Linty_7) August 11, 2019
This second half atrocious- tactically all over the place – no disciple, no shape, no purpose – welcome Steve Bruce#nufc
— Michael Gallon (@MichaelGallon) August 11, 2019
Bruce claims to love the club and this is his dream job. Pull anyone out the crowd and you would hear the exact same quote. He’s not up to scratch for any premiership team, tactically he’s completely out of touch with the modern game, so much so it’s terrifying #nufc
— Garwain (@Garwain) August 11, 2019
Subs coming on not knowing where they were playing, no midfielders on bench, 4 defenders on bench. Welcome to Bruce's #nufc
— Mark Porteous (@portogeordiepig) August 11, 2019
That was an awful performance with two unforgiveable managerial mistakes. There is your difference between Bruce and Rafa
— Nufc42 (@nufc42) August 11, 2019