Paul Merson believes Steve Bruce took too long to change things at Crystal Palace – feeling Martin Dubravka was the sole reason we weren’t beaten by ‘four or five’.
He believes we’ll ‘fall over’ the line and stay up with a couple of wins, but his assessment of our 1-0 defeat at Selhurst Park is pretty damning
The Sky Sports pundit felt midfield duo Nabil Bentaleb and Sean Longstaff were being convincingly overrun by Palace’s midfield three and was also concerned to see how deep Miguel Almiron was forced to drop to defend – saying his tackle in the 6-yard box to deny Zaha says a lot about our lack of numbers in attacking areas.
He believed Allan Saint-Maximin was our ‘only one that looked a threat’ in black and white, felt Joelinton looked isolated as ever and believed Lazaro showed a few ‘wow’ moments – despite making a few defensive errors in his two starts so far.
Speaking on Sky Sports here’s what he had to say:
“It was a good strike, a great free-kick by van Aanholt, but if the goalie didn’t take that step (to his left) and gamble, he catches the ball virtually but…
“He (Dubravka) made at least three world class saves, so it was a one goal game but on another day they could have won four or five.
“Good result for Palace but they played so well and only won 1-0 and that is why they are where they are in the league.
“The two in the middle (for Newcastle) were just overrun, Longstaff and Bentaleb, I thought Steve Bruce should have changed it.
“They got run riot and the keeper kept them in the game…kept them in the game.
“Some real bad finishing (by Palace), Beneteke missed from four yards. Ayew had a couple he should have done better with.
“Big result for Palace and that will be it (safety).”
“A lot of eyes on a striker at the other end, Joelinton, was he starved of service?”
“Yes he was.
“He had a great shot from about 30 yards which the keeper made a meal of but yeah he looked…Newcastle were never really in the game.
“If I’ve got to be honest, Saint-Maximus (ASM) was the only one that looked a threat, even Amiron was quiet. He (Almiron) got back and cleared a certain goal from Zaha in the first half, so when you are having to do that…what chance have you got of getting forward and trying to score goals?
“I would probably say Newcastle played worse than what they did against Arsenal.
“Sometimes when you watch Lazaro you think ‘wow’, like the first 30 minutes against Arsenal, I thought he was good against Aubameyang. Then in the second half he went.
“It was a bit like that today.
“A ball came in and he went to head it and you would have thought it was a Woolworths ball (penny floater), he was saying it was moving in the air.
“I heard on the commentary that there were eight teams after him, so he just has to get used to it, it is a hard league.
“He will have a bit of time now (after his red card) to just watch and see what he should do.
“Newcastle will fall over a couple of wins I think (and be safe).”
For once, I don’t think there’s much I could disagree with from Paul Merson here.
A wretched display where Bruce set us up poorly and the players looked lost and dejected as a result.
Some need to offer more and must up their game, however I do wonder if large parts of this squad are becoming uninspired by a manager who keeps on throwing them under the bus, suggesting they’re not enough to play the football he wants them to play (despite us having PLENTY capable individuals). I mean, getting paid to play football is a luxury, but anyone would find it a slog to play in this Newcastle United side this season.
The plan (or lack of it) is the issue Steve, not your players.