Where to even begin. I mean seriously where? That was worryingly bad and THE worst opening 45 minutes of football I’ve seen us play in the Premier League, then it didn’t get much better. We had 29% possession..
It’s a miracle we weren’t 3-0 down at half time. Any team slightly better than Brighton and we probably would have been
A crowd of 43,316 saw a lethargic, clueless display. There were players questioning each other, questioning the manager, while big gaps in the crowd interrupted the apathy of the those who went. Welcome to Newcastle United circa 2019. With Mike Ashley, Lee Charnley and Steve Bruce in charge, what on earth do you expect.
We made Brighton look like Man City at times. The possession stood at only 21% after 17 minutes. The way they pulled our players out of position, begged belief. The space between the wide centre backs and the wing backs was almost amateur, and when Hayden and Schar told Bruce how it wasn’t working, apparently he changed to a back four.
I genuinely needed Graeme Le Saux to tell me that on the commentary, such was the lack of shape and cohesion. There was a half chance for Almiron and a free header for Joelinton which went begging but other than that, we spent the first half chasing the ball and the boos at half time were the loudest the crowd were all evening.
It was a much brighter start to the second half, with some high pressing and a half chance for Atsu, which was immediately dampened by an injury to Schar, who thankfully was ok. Interestingly we also went back to the original plan of 3-4-3. It seemed Bruce actually did something at half time, or at least tried to.
However, normal service was shortly resumed. Brighton were back to playing exhibition football by 52 mins. There was one point on 56 minutes when the ball went for our throw in 10 yards into the Brighton half, Joelinton went for the quick throw and there wasn’t a Newcastle player within 30 yards of him. There were 164 to 480 completed passes on 58 minutes……in Brighton’s favour. It really was that desperate.
A Shelvey long range effort and a couple of robust tackles from Hayden and Lascelles lifted the crowd a little, but it didn’t didn’t last long. Misplaced passes and players being caught in possession saw the atmosphere turn from apathetic to toxic, then back to apathetic again. Ki and Saint Maximin were introduced on 70 mins and after an incredible goal line clearance from Schar, the French winger had the crowd on its collective feet with a brilliant run and through ball to Joelinton but the shot was blocked.
On 79 minutes the biggest roar of the night came as Andy Carroll stripped off for his second debut.
His first touch set Saint Maximin away down the line but it amounted to nothing with a weak cross / shot.
There was of course time for Carroll to injure someone. Lewis Dunk was on the end of a hefty challenge from our own human wrecking ball.
We finished the game on the front front, that’s something at least. Saint Maximin and Carroll gave the crowd a lift, but it felt desperate.
If anyone reading this wants to debate with me that Steve Bruce is doing a good job and deserves time. Comment below, and come with your guns loaded.
Tactically we were a shambles, and we go to the King Power stadium next……it simply must get better.