Sky Sports have revealed a series of damning statistics that don’t bode well for Steve Bruce’s negative approach – and explain how a certain Jamal Lewis is quite literally going backwards as a result.
Adam Bate’s insightful piece reveals how deep this Newcastle United side sit under Steve Bruce and how we win the ball back in the final third less than any other side in the top flight – showing how little we get up the pitch or press.
He also explains how no other Premier League team have to travel further with the ball when we win it back – another stat that highlights how cautious our approach has been.
With all this in mind, Bate adds that Jamal Lewis is passing the half-way line HALF as much as he did at Norwich.
Lewis looked a confident player last season and a left-back capable of marauding runs and slick link up play – but he’s looked a shadow of that player under Bruce so far, and it’s easy to see why when you see stats like this. His attacking potential is being wasted.
Essentially, we don’t press from the front – but allow the opposition easy possession and a chance to attack constantly, rarely taking risks or attacking in numbers to get ourselves up the pitch.
When we eventually win the ball, we’ve got to start laboured attacks from deep inside our own half, meaning the likes of Lewis has a LOT to do to get into good attacking positions, never mind overlap as he liked to do at Norwich. This makes us highly reliant on the likes of Allan Saint-Maximin – who has that unique ability to carry the ball 50-yards – or Miguel Almiron for his blend of pace and energy on the counter.
The scathing Sky Sports report has also emphasised the fact that lucky results – like Sunday’s 1-1 draw against Wolves – are becoming a ‘happy knack’ for a Steve Bruce side that totally lacks identity.
Bruce claims that we’re a ‘work in progress’ but his actual approach to achieve this mystery end goal he talks about is haphazard and inconsistent, with us playing different formations in FIVE of our six games so far.
Sites like W88 tells us there’s still FOUR Premier League sides more likely to go down this season, but the lack of plan and luck (which is bound to run out sooner rather than later) leaves me fearing things may only get worse, not better.
When talking about our negative, directionless football, the report states; ‘Newcastle supporters might be left wondering whether they are allowed to hope for rather more than that. Maybe there is the quality within this team to be aiming for better – and, however desirable, maybe it should not need a boardroom takeover to make it happen.’
This point particularly resonated with me. Bruce has had the financial backing that Rafa never had, and yet we look unadventurous in attack and are going backwards defensively. In terms of ‘quality’, how many players have regressed under Bruce? Lascelles, Schar and Sean Longstaff are almost incomparable to how they were under Benitez – and Lewis could be the next to regress if Bruce isn’t careful.
Yes, results are fine, we’re getting points, but it doesn’t feel sustainable and it’s pretty awful on the eyes.