This can’t go on.
Steve Bruce’s Newcastle United may be good for the odd smash and grab victory now and again but the entirely reactive brand of football deployed is no way to build a squad containing almost £100m worth of attacking talent.
Without a central midfielder able to string a fairly resolute defence and an efficient attack together, Newcastle are largely their worst enemy at times by constantly giving the ball away. It was something picked up by the likes of George Caulkin and Mark Douglas during the miserable loss at Southampton earlier this evening and, using WhoScored data, it’s easy to see it was indeed a problem.
No one outside of late sub Andy Carroll, Jamal Lewis, Jamaal Lascelles and Federico Fernandez was able to muster a passing accuracy of over 80% (the home side had seven players able to do so) and the two goals came from dithering on the ball in dangerous areas.
Given the frantic nature of Newcastle’s play, it’s actually hard to blame Sean Longstaff and Miguel Almiron individually. When they have the ball in tight areas, there appears to be no plan other than knocking it long for either Allan Saint-Maximin or Callum Wilson, leading to the extra time taken.
Perhaps you’d expect players at this level to simply clear their lines and, while that’s obvious, think about how the players must be feeling. They’ve been reacting to the opposition all game and finally have a touch of the ball but seemingly have no plan on how to deal with it. That is simply not conducive to astute decision making.
Will Steve Bruce last the season?
Jonjo Shelvey is obviously someone who can help dictate play but even he is struggling without support. Making just 1.2 key passes on average per game, that’s his lowest return since 2014 when he was at Swansea.
Newcastle United lack any sort of control and lurch from one result to another. Signing a new central midfielder could fix that.