Newcastle narrowly lost their opening game against Arsenal on Sunday, in what turned out to be a tight game, with chances at a premium for both sides.

But Bruce once infamously said “I’m not really into tactics” during an interview, and those comments seemed to come to prominence following the new manager’s first substitution of the game.

(Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images)

With Jonjo Shelvey struggling to shake of an injury, Bruce decided to throw new signing Jetro Willems on to replace him.

But with a lack of any midfield options on the bench, it seemed a strange swap, and none of the players appeared to have a clue who was supposed to be playing where.

WIllems stood, lost, in the middle of the field, before Bruce got his message onto the field that Ritchie was to switch inside, with the Dutchman going in at left wing-back.

(Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

It was a bizarre sequence of events, and it came as little surprise when the goal came from a howling error from Willems just four minutes later.


The pass to the wing-back may not have been a great one, but Willems was stood ball-watching, and was exposed as Arsenal nicked it away from him, leading directly to their goal.

Schoolboy error from Willems cost Newcastle

It was schoolboy stuff, and an unforgivable mistake from a player who has represented his country 22 times.

(Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images)

Bruce put the mix-up following the substitution down to “a lack of communication”, but it was not acceptable at this level, and will do nothing to silence fans who have doubted his ability to succeed at the top level.

The change, arguably, cost Newcastle the game, with the Magpies never looking like rescuing a point following the visitors’ goal, and mistakes like that must not be allowed to happen again.

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