Former Scotland defender Alan Hutton has claimed Newcastle United failed at the basics of Steve Bruce’s tactics when we lost at Aston Villa on Monday night.
Conor Hourihane opened the scoring 32 minutes into the league encounter at Villa Park by whipping his shot around Martin Dubravka’s wall, after DeAndre Yedlin brought Jack Grealish down just outside our box.
Anwar El Ghazi doubled the host’s lead just four minutes later from another set-piece routine, when the 24-year-old Dutchman bundled the ball over the line after Hourihane delivered an exquisite cross into our bewildered defence.
Falling behind, and then conceding again just moments later, from dead ball situations has left Hutton claiming Bruce would have been disappointed by what he saw on his return to Aston Villa, as defending set-pieces is the bread and butter of his work on the training pitches.
“I know Steve Bruce well and I’m sure for the whole week he was getting them revved up for this game,” Hutton, who played under the boss at Villa, told Football Insider.
Is our defending at set-pieces concerning you?
“This was massive for him. Things didn’t go quite [as] planned at Villa towards the end, and he’ll have been wanting to go to Villa Park and show people what they were missing.
“They just kind of flopped, to be honest – they didn’t come out the traps at all. Things like set pieces, these are things that he does daily, drills it into his players, do not concede from free-kicks, from set-pieces and they’ve been hurt. It’s something he works on and he’ll be disappointed with.”
Only Aston Villa and Everton have now conceded more goals from set-piece routines in the Premier League than we have thus far this season, with the Villans and Toffees having conceded seven times to our six – the same as West Ham United, Watford and Bournemouth.