According to the Chronicle’s Mark Douglas, Steve Bruce wants ‘energy’ in midfield and players who can ‘cover ground’ in the middle of the park – a revelation that doesn’t bode well at all for two NUFC players in particular.
Both are very capable players technically, having an eye for a pass and quality on the ball, but they’ll be facing a real uphill task to get back into Steve Bruce’s plans if these new claims are true.
Speaking in the The Chronicle’s latest Q&A, Douglas said:
“To play the way he wants, Bruce would ideally like more energy in the middle of the park – players who cover ground – and physical players who can push up.”
With this in mind, it’s easy to see why the 58-year-old opted for the energetic and enthusiastic Longstaff brothers last time out, with both – along with Isaac Hayden – having the legs and intensity needed to fulfil this role.
Comparing how the young duo patrolled the midfield against Man Utd to Shelvey and Ki’s display in that wretched 3-1 defeat at Norwich really is night and day.
Shelvey and Ki still have a part to play, with both being effective if and when we’re on the front foot and needing to take the game to teams, but I’d argue that they’re luxury players who certainly can’t coexist in the same midfield.
Ki is out of contract at the end of the season and currently appears to be Bruce’s fifth choice option in midfield, while Shelvey’s future always seems to be somewhere in between him fighting for a first-team chance and being fed up by the lack of faith recent managers have showed in him.
If we were a possession-based side who got at teams then maybe things would be different for the former Swansea duo, but if Steve Bruce is prioritising energy, intensity and ground coverage in midfield, it looks like Hayden and the Longstaff’s may be getting the nod for the foreseeable future.