Another weekend of predictions, another curious set of comments from Charlie Nicholas.
The Sky Sports pundit thinks it will be honours even this weekend, predicting a 2-2 draw vs Bournemouth, but his comments on Steve Bruce’s ‘attacking football’ and our inability to play his ‘preferred style’ don’t add up.
Here’s what he’s had to say during his prediction – which also sees him give a surprisingly accurate assessment of Miguel Almiron:
“The way Newcastle are going at the minute, you are thinking that these are winnable games for them. I know Steve Bruce likes to play attacking football, but he cannot do so with this team. Miguel Almiron is like a little whippet who cannot slow down to finish.
“The fans love him as he is energetic, which I do like about him, but the other phases of his play need to come sharpish. Allan Saint-Maximin is skilful and unpredictable, while Jonjo Shelvey is back in the team. If Newcastle win, they are heading towards the top end of the table.
“Bournemouth can go anywhere and play well, as shown with the Manchester United game. They are a very dangerous side and will cause problems once again.”
CHARLIE PREDICTS: Newcastle 2-2 Bournemouth
Pretty much everything he says here is spot on, except that line, “Steve Bruce likes to play attacking football”.
Those of us who have witnessed Bruce’s entire managerial career as football fans would struggle to remember too many of his teams playing attacking football, and ironically Nicholas chooses to say this after we scored 3 goals last week and were brilliant going forward, in the first half at least. Not only that, I struggle to buy this argument that our group of players are incapable of playing attacking football, with us having a £75m front three, bags of pace, creative midfielders and talented ball players at the back.
Anyway as Nicholas rightly points out, the way we are going this is a winnable game, he’s also absolutely bang on about Bournemouth being a very dangerous side.
They are stuttering in front of goal at the moment a little despite beating Man Utd last week, and have failed to score in 4 of the last 6 games, but in Wilson, King and Fraser they possess quality and will surely turn it around soon.
When Nicholas talks about Shelvey being back in the team, it’s also worth noting that Jefferson Lerma is suspended tomorrow for the visitors, with the more attack minded Lewis Cook expected to start in his place. That central midfield area is going to be interesting tomorrow and I genuinely feel that Hayden and Shelvey can come out on top.
If we can pull off back to back wins for the first time this season it means we have momentum and confidence going into a run of games that we should be able to pick up points from. Bruce got his team selection and approach perfect for the start of last week’s game, and while it won’t be easy to replicate that due to how Bournemouth press, another high tempo start on the front foot would be great please boys.
I’m going for a Toon win, an impressive performance and goals from Joelinton and Almiron.