Steve Bruce has endured a lot of criticism since becoming Newcastle manager, and justifiably given some of the head-scratching decisions he has made, but against Manchester United he deserves some credit.

Of course, one swallow does not make a summer, and he still has a long way to go to convince me, and other fans, that he can take the club forward in the long-term.

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But putting the future aside for a while, as much as I have been critical of him up until now, I also must give credit where it is due, and against Manchester United, Bruce got all the decisions spot-on.

I voiced my concern when the team was announced, and was very doubtful that it was a good call to bring the untested Matty Longstaff into the side – how wrong could I be?

But it was not just the youngster’s inclusion that had me questioning Bruce. Dropping Paul Dummett for Ciaran Clark seemed like an odd move, given that Dummett has done little – if anything – wrong this season.

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Even bringing DeAndre Yedlin back was a bit of a surprise, although just due to lack of game time, as opposed to ability.

But all three of those selections paid off, along with the electrifying Allan Saint-Maximin, and for that, Bruce does deserve a lot of credit.

 

Bruce’s Newcastle tactics were as bang-on as his team selection

He also got his tactics dead right (yes, you read that right!), with him subtly tweaking the formation.

His 5-4-1 lineup looked fairly routine, but he had clearly determined that the Longstaff brothers would sit, and when Newcastle were in possession, both Saint-Maximin and Almiron would use their pace to counter-attack.

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He also made sure both Yedlin and Jetro Willems at wing-back were constantly getting forward in support during attacks.

It worked to perfection, and was epitomised by the winning goal, which came about from a Manchester United corner, before the blistering counter-attack started.

So while I will only be convinced to change my mind over Bruce if he can manufacture a persistent winning run that sees Newcastle continue to climb the table, he deserves the plaudits he is receiving this week.

Time will tell if the win is the turning point he admitted he hopes it is, but for now, we will take the three points, and enjoy the international break by sitting 16th in the table, looking down at those in the relegation zone below us.

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