Steve Bruce admits he tried to implement his own system ‘too early’ at Newcastle – suggesting he was wrong to go with a 3-5-2 formation earlier in the season.
This comes from his recent interview with The Athletic following our brilliant 2-1 win over Bournemouth, which sees the NUFC boss rate his start as a 6/10 when asked by George Caulkin.
When asked to give himself a mark out of ten, here’s what he’s had to say when assessing his start to life at St James’ Park:
“Six out of 10.”
“When I see us sitting where we are… we’ve had a decent start, it’s OK, but that’s all it is. There’s still a long way to go.”
“I’m just delighted that I’ve seen the stadium rock a couple of times in the last month now, against Manchester United and again [on Saturday]. I think the crowd got behind the team because they enjoyed the spirit the team showed. That’s how it should be. Bournemouth were out of sight in the first 25 minutes. They were really excellent. To turn it around the way the players did… I’m delighted. I hope people have enjoyed what they’ve seen.”
Some may believe he deserves a higher mark given the fact we’re sat in mid-table and comfortably clear of the drop zone despite a tough run of early fixtures, however it can’t be forgotten that things looked incredibly bleak just a few weeks ago. He’s turned it around superbly over the past few games, but there’s a long way to go yet – and he clearly knows that too.
Bruce then admitted to an early-season error on his part, suggesting it was a mistake to implement a new 3-5-2 system straight away after a ‘very short’ pre-season:
“I’d changed the system, but it was too early for that. We had a very short pre-season together. They were used to playing in a certain way, so let them back into their comfort zone, if that’s what it needs. From there, it’s about how we can be a bit more of a threat. Against Bournemouth, we had 20 attempts on goal. A few weeks ago, we were lucky if we got one so gradually, you’re putting a little bit of a stamp on it.
“I want us to be defensively right, because you have to be, but I also want us to entertain and to be a little bit up and at ’em, where the crowd can say they’ve enjoyed watching their team rather than just hanging on, because I think that’s the way forward.”
The new formation really didn’t work, with us looking particularly woeful in that 3-1 defeat at Norwich on the second weekend of the season.
Thankfully, he’s swallowed his pride and reverted back to the system the players know so well from their time under Rafa Benitez – and it’s worked wonders in recent weeks.
Bruce then touched on the ’embarrassing’ 5-0 hammering at Leicester, condemning the manner of the defeat but praising the response we’ve shown since then:
“It was embarrassing, although we’ve seen since then that Leicester are a very, very, very good side and we were down to 10 men against them for a long period. That’s one thing. But it was the manner of how we lost. It was way too easy for them.
“That’s when you earn your money, that’s when you draw on your experience, and think about how you get a response. We needed one, that’s for sure.”
Hats off to Bruce. We were shocking at Leicester that day in a performance that stunk of relegation, but since then we’ve won 3, drawn 1 and lost 1 (narrowly at Chelsea) in our last 5.
We needed to see a big response, and Bruce has delivered that.
Finally, the NUFC boss opened up about the abuse he’s received and the regrets he’s had after turning down the Toon job all those years ago:
“All this stuff about me being clueless, that I can’t do this or that, that I don’t know how to take a warm-up, it’s insulting. But look, to do the job, you’ve got to have tough skin. I’ve got that. The experience I’ve had over 20 years has put me in good stead. I was offered this job in 2004 and I’d have been following Sir Bobby Robson. I was young. I might not have had the toughness to see it through. I do now.”
“I regretted it for years when I stayed at Birmingham City all that time ago and I never thought it would come around again. When I say I’m delighted to be here, it isn’t just words. It means the world to me.
“The longer we go on, the better we’ll get, I’m sure of that. We’ve been back in the division for a couple of years and we’ve been relegated twice in in the last 10, so it hasn’t been easy for Newcastle. The aim has got to be get the club properly established in the Premier League. The longer you’re in it, the more you can improve, the better players and squad you assemble. To get this opportunity, great. I’ll say it again: I’m delighted.”