Newcastle 1-0 West Ham: Muto stars & several impress in much improved display

A promising start to Steve Bruce’s reign at Newcastle United, as Yoshinori Muto’s goal helped us come out on top in our 3rd/4th place play-off game against West Ham today.

Bruce wasn’t in the dugout for this one, with him yet to gain a working visa in China, however he’s believed to have picked the team – and they started very brightly and controlled the game throughout.

You could immediately tell the team were much more focused and ‘up for it’ in this one. You’d expect that, with many being keen to impress new ‘head coach’ Steve Bruce – who watched from the stands with Agnew and Clemence – but it was good to see after what was a dreadful display in the 4-0 defeat to Wolves just a few days ago.

Sorensen missed a golden opportunity early on after a world class pass from Jonjo Shelvey set Isaac Hayden away down the right. It was a bad miss from the Dane and one to forget for him, but he didn’t look out of place, with him looking a handful and a willing runner who comes alive in the box.

All that was missing from our first-half dominance was a goal, but that arrived 33 minutes in, with Yoshinori Muto prodding home well after Jamie Sterry whipped in an inch perfect cross from the right.

It was a tidy finish and a goal that he thoroughly deserved after a bright first-half display from the Japanese forward.

He was very impressive and looked a totally different player to the one we saw struggle against Wolves on Wednesday.

His movement was excellent and his touch looked much sharper, with him linking up nicely and stretching the West Ham defence. He played in more of a ‘Perez role’ and had a striker partner in Sorensen, giving him something to work with and leaving him far less isolated.

Shelvey also looked much sharper in that deep-lying central midfield role, playing several cutting passes and pulling the strings all game, while Sterry also played his part, seeing a lot of the ball down the right and whipping in several dangerous crosses.

Hayden seemed to play a little higher up the pitch than we’ve been used to seeing him, with him making some decent runs forward and putting in a good shift.

Colback actually broke things up well at times and did the simple stuff pretty well, but he’s very limited, both offensively and defensively, and tends to give away too many needless free-kicks.

Ritchie was more like his usual self after reverting back to a left wing-back role and Schar gave us that extra bit of quality and composure from the back.

Lascelles and Clark were solid, although the latter was VERY lucky to escape a red card after a wild and reckless challenge that could have quite easily broken Yarmalenko’s leg!

Federico Fernández, Manquillo, Murphy and Ki replaced Clark, Sterry, Sørensen and Hayden in the second half – which proved to be fairly uneventful from a NUFC perspective, but there were still plenty positives to take.

Murphy showed a real burst of pace on more than one occasion, ghosting past Ogbonna with ease on several occasions – although his cut-backs just evaded those in black and white shirts on both occasions. That said, he looked bright and was at the heart of all our attacks in the second half.

Sean Longstaff came on for the final 30 minutes, with him gaining his first minutes of pre-season and first return to football since he suffered that season-ending knee injury against West Ham in March. He got about the pitch well and had a goal disallowed after some great counter-attacking play from Murphy, Muto and Shelvey, although he was offside as he prodded home from six yards.

With just under 15 minutes left, Matty Longstaff, Lazaar and Aarons came on for Shelvey, Muto and Colback – a substitution that saw the two Longstaff brothers playing alongside each other in the senior side for the vert first time.

We had another goal narrowly disallowed late on, with Lazzar slipping in Matty Longstaff with a lovely first time pass on the volley, however a cut-back lashed home by Aarons was all in vein after the Moroccan was adjudged to have been offside.

Aarons then went on a brilliant run on the counter attack moments later, using his pace to skip past a few West Ham defenders – although his final effort was poor, with him scuffing a weak shot wide.

West Ham put on a bit of pressure late on, but we defended well and fully deserved the victory.

New signings are badly needed, but there were several positives to take from this one, with it being a welcome win in a summer that’s been filled with bad news and bad decisions up until this point.

(Fancy writing for us? Send any articles/ideas over to us at NUFCblogsubmissions@gmail.com & we’ll get back to you!)

About Olly Hawkins

Olly has been a Junior Magpie from birth. As a season ticket holder and avid Newcastle United fan - he eats, sleeps and breathes all things NUFC.

166 thoughts on “Newcastle 1-0 West Ham: Muto stars & several impress in much improved display

  1. Stuart79: Then you have forgot Leicester and Wolves away, Man City at home just off the top of my head. All tactically astute performances from the team coached well by Rafa.

    Stu – not at all mate. I remember the team playing really well and picking up some cracking results – I don’t remember Rafa doing anything tactically different in those games to any other though.
    Please enlighten me as to his tactical mastery though – the change in formation?, a different team selection?, players doing different things in those particular matches? – what did I and every bugger else miss in those 3 games that you saw?.

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  2. I have to agree with Sharpy (again)..
    I don’t believe Raffa was a tactical guru. However his teams were very well drilled and very disciplined/organised. Tactically I saw no real variation throughout the seasons gone by. He stuck with his plans and barely went outside what he always did. I wouldn’t call this tactical, I would say it was predictable but it did make us very hard to breakdown. Raffa certainly wasn’t adventurous with his teams.

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  3. Can we all just move on now.
    Rafa is gone, Bruce is here now whether we like it or not and worse still so is the fatman, that’s more of a concern for me.
    Joelinton in changes nowt, Ashley has merely spent the Ayoze and Joselu cash that’s all, we are still light on quality. Should Joe get crocked we are stuffed up front, especially if Gayle is sold too.
    This Bruce v Rafa needs to be put to bed, time will tell if Bruce can match Rafa’s acumen insofar as tactics are concerned. Gonna be an interesting season that’s for sure.
    Last point from me on Rafa, he was so much more than tactics, we are getting bogged down by that and points for games and what ever when the real issue for me was what he represented. Ambition, progress and a real connection between club, team, fans and community, that, that has been lost is a real shame imo but it is what it is. Ashley now has a man who he sees will tow the line and as he is the owner there is little we can do to change it. I will continue to follow the team with interest but as ever will not buy any merchandise or set foot in a single outlet owned by that man.

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  4. Sharpy17: Stu – not at all mate.I remember the team playing really well and picking up some cracking results – I don’t remember Rafa doing anything tactically different in those games to any other though.
    Please enlighten me as to his tactical mastery though – the change in formation?, a different team selection?, players doing different things in those particular matches? – what did I and every bugger else miss in those 3 games that you saw?.

    Do you think being defensively well drilled was by accident? Do you think changing to 3 at the back was a toss of the coin? Did he get the sit back and hit them on the break tactic for the matches from Championship Manager? I suppose the huge improvement in players like Hayden, Perez, Dummett or Ritchie (being turned into one of the best performing wing backs in the league) was all accident? How many players have we seen improve over the last few years with the likes of McClaren, Carver or Pardew to such an extent? Don’t you give Rafa credit for the loan of Rondon which played a key role in picking up points? Or the purchase of Schar for next to nothing and his goals which led to victories?

    All in all, Rafa was responible for at least 10 points due to the reasons I have pointed out above. Will Bruce make the same contributions as Rafa did to get us them ten points? Lets see…

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  5. Stuart79: Do you think being defensively well drilled was by accident? Do you think changing to 3 at the back was a toss of the coin? Did he get the sit back and hit them on the break tactic for the matches from Championship Manager? I suppose the huge improvement in players like Hayden, Perez, Dummett or Ritchie (being turned into one of the best performing wing backs in the league) was all accident? How many players have we seen improve over the last few years with the likes of McClaren, Carver or Pardew to such an extent? Don’t you give Rafa credit for the loan of Rondon which played a key role in picking up points? Or the purchase of Schar for next to nothing and his goals which led to victories?

    All in all, Rafa was responible for at least 10 points due to the reasons I have pointed out above. Will Bruce make the same contributions as Rafa did to get us them ten points? Lets see…

    Stu – I am rationalising what you are saying. You claim that Rafa is solely responsible for at least 10pts – but by that way of thinking, you then also have to hold him responsible for every dropped point as well – you can’t pick and choose.

    As for the rest .. where to start ?.

    Well the back 3 came about because of an injury to Dummett and no cover for him. This caused Rafa to go with the back 3 and play Ritchie as a make shift LWB. He drilled the team to make that formation work and was right to stick with it, and it ultimately changed our season – but it was a change in formation that was forced on him.
    As for Hayden and Longstaff – both were rotting in reserves for a long time. Longstaff was about to go out on loan and Hayden handed in a transfer request coz he saw no future at Newcastle – hardly 2 players who were motivated and being developed by their manager.
    Both were thrust into the first team because of injuries and Ki going off on international duties.
    Again, when both were in the first team, they were drilled to know their role in the team and it all worked really well.
    Perez didn’t show up at the start of last season or the season before. His improvements came about when Kenedy came in and again when Almiron came in last season.

    I am not running Rafa down here. But to credit him with a quarter of our entire points total is wrong imo.

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  6. I feel I need to make my position clear on Rafa. I agree with Kim about all of the extras he brought to the table. As a manager I think he deserves great credit for a 10th and 13th place finish. I think we had PL quality players in the squads to help him do that – but not up front. Decent but not clinical enough. Because of that, he was right to focus on making us defensively sound. But I think crediting him with 10 points is over praise.

    As for continually comparing Rafas PL record to Bruce – it’s hardly fair really. Rafa had quality squads with Lpool and Chelsea. Bruce had Hull, Sunderland and Wigan. Surely it stands to reason that with better players, Rafa is expected to have a better record than Bruce.

    I think Bruce is a good man manager. The likes of Andy Robertson have came out and spoken highly of him, as has Hayden – and if the arrival of Bruce has in some way played its part in Hayden deciding to stay, then imo Bruce has already had a positive impact before a balls kicked.

    If we get another 3/4 in then I think it’s giving him a chance. The players will need time to settle in, but the quality is coming in if we sign those we are linked to. I am confident that Bruce keeps us up.

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  7. Nice, well considered points from you both Sharpy and Stuart.

    Rafa, like all of us, had his good points and his faults. I had confidence under him that we weren’t going to get thrashed and that we’d stay in tight games. He was very cautious.
    He was weird with recruitment and player relations though. There’s a long list of players he bought that were never good enough and that he hardly used.
    Overall I liked him and his coaches. The memory is dimming already.

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  8. georgio:
    Nice, well considered points from you both Sharpy and Stuart.

    Rafa, like all of us, had his good points and his faults. I had confidence under him that we weren’t going to get thrashed and that we’d stay in tight games. He was very cautious.
    He was weird with recruitment and player relations though. There’s a long list of players he bought that were never good enough and that he hardly used.
    Overall I liked him and his coaches. The memory is dimming already.

    Georgio – I felt the same mate and as a former CB myself I’m a huge fan in the art of defending. Rafa was brilliant at it and the criticism he got from Sky pundits about his ‘negative approach’ was ridiculous.
    But imo it’s equally as ridiculous to credit him solely for a quarter of our points total – that specifically is the bit of Stus claim I disagree with. Because as I say, to do that you then have to hold him responsible for the points lost – and that’s obviously not fair either.

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  9. I really like our new away strip.

    I won’t be buying one thanks to fat lad like, but it is a nice looking shirt.

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  10. Sharpy – Rafa’s defensive tactical ability resulted in us being extremely well drilled. That’s 10 points already. We didn’t have anywhere near as good defensive record under any other managers whilst Ashley’s been here.

    Hayden didn’t want to leave because he wasn’t playing. He wants to be near his family. And nobody can argue that Ritchie, Perez and Dummett haven’t improved under Rafa.

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  11. Stuart79:
    Sharpy – Rafa’s defensive tactical ability resulted in us being extremely well drilled. That’s 10 points already. We didn’t have anywhere near as good defensive record under any other managers whilst Ashley’s been here.

    Hayden didn’t want to leave because he wasn’t playing. He wants to be near his family. And nobody can argue that Ritchie, Perez and Dummett haven’t improved under Rafa.

    Then his defensive tactics are equally as responsible for the loss of at least 10 points.
    We drew 0-0 with Cardiff which we should have won.
    We lost 0-1 to Brighton and drew 1-1 – there’s another 6pts
    We drew 0-0 with Fulham – another 3 points dropped.

    That’s 2 points from a possible 12.

    If you are crediting your tactical genius with the results against Leicester, Wolves and City, surely those fixtures I’ve given are winnable games – certainly should be getting more than 2 points from 12?!.

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  12. I am not sure being good defensively costs you points, Sharpy… That’s a new one on me! 😯

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