Newcastle United head coach Steve Bruce has left many Magpies supporters bewildered after he admitted that bringing Jetro Willems on to play in midfield against Arsenal was a mistake, as quoted by the Chronicle’s Lee Ryder.
During the game, it appeared the mistake was Willems’, as it seemed his instructions were to play at left-back with Matt Ritchie moving in alongside Isaac Hayden, but Bruce has now stated that this was not the case.
Instead, the boss confirmed at his pre-game press conference on Friday that he instructed the Dutch full-back to make his competitive Newcastle debut in the engine room, before soon realising the decision was not the best call he could have made.
“I put Jetro on in midfield, where he played for Frankfurt [last season],” Bruce said. “Then I thought it was unfair. Then I switched him quickly. We made a mistake.”
Willems played 17 times for Eintracht Frankfurt in the centre of midfield last season, with his remaining 19 outings spread across the wide and defensive midfield roles, central defence, and his natural left full-back position.
There were no natural options on the bench for Bruce to turn to against Arsenal as he sought to change things up after losing Jonjo Shelvey through injury, as he had named four defenders on the bench to cover for the potential loss of Paul Dummett or Jamaal Lascelles, as both were operating below their full capabilities.
Now admitting that Willems was instructed to take over from Shelvey has not gone down well with the St James’ Park faithful going by these reactions…
Thought he originally put him in lwb or that’s what he originally said. He’s not got a clue
— Dan Holmes (@DanToon4Life) August 16, 2019
That sounds dreadful and highlights he has no firm game plan and conviction in his decisions. I’m one for giving him a chance but these comments don’t help at all.
— Will Inman (@will10Inman) August 16, 2019
@AlexBruce84 I though you said there wasn’t a mistake??
— Andy Carter (@AndyCarter7) August 16, 2019
— #ASHLEYOUT (@ASHLEYOUTTTTTTT) August 16, 2019
No Brucey, you made a mistake, another demonstration of your lack of integrity. Not much support for a new player to the club either ????
— Stu Charlton (@stuart_charlton) August 16, 2019
That’s worrying. He’s had days to think about what changes should be made when players are injured or performing poorly. You also have to question what sort of message it sends the players.
— Outofhand32 (@Outofhand32) August 16, 2019
Hang on, I thought the reason Willems was available for transfer was that he was sick of not being played at LB?
— Veitchy (@Veitchy) August 16, 2019
Mistakes happen. He’s a young manager, new to this league! He will learn from it…
Oh. Hold on a sec ????
— Adam McPherson (@AdsMac) August 16, 2019
No! I made a mistake? Muppet!
— Noel Batchelder (@nrbatchelder) August 16, 2019
We made a mistake this is the prem you can’t just say we made a mistake that lost us the game
— James Whitby (@JamesWhitby17) August 16, 2019
*I made a mistake
— John Wallace (@johnny4793) August 16, 2019