Former Mag Michael Chopra has aimed a Twitter rant at Steve Bruce after our disappointing defeat to Arsenal over the weekend.
The 35-year-old questions why we initially allowed Willems to play in centre-midfield, also criticising Bruce’s choice to name 4 defenders and no midfielder on the bench – an area we were left short in when Shelvey was forced off 7 minutes into the second half.
Here’s what the former Newcastle and Sunderland striker posted on Twitter following Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at St James’ Park:
“A LB playing out of position at CM, 4 defenders on the bench, no CM on the bench, a manager screaming what the f**k is happening.
“The circus continues at NUFC.”
While areas of this rant are valid, this is an overreaction for me. Describing us as a ‘circus’ seems wrong given we were arguably a mistake away from taking a point against a top 6 side.
To begin with, there was initial confusion over Willems’ position, with him initially going into midfield, but this breakdown in communication was quickly rectified. Did it look good? No, but I think focus on this minor mistake considering he did switch to left wing-back a matter of minutes later after word got out from the bench.
As for the substitutes available, I said as much myself that there was a worrying lack of midfielders on the bench given we were starting with three central midfielders.
In hindsight, Bruce may regret not putting Ki or Matty Longstaff on his bench, especially when the likes of Ritchie and Almiron seemed to take up midfield roles late on – yet both seemed absolutely spent.
It wasn’t a result of performance that warranted any major overreaction, but it is key that Bruce does learn from his early mistakes – starting at Norwich this weekend.