The league leaders rumble into Toon tomorrow and once again we face a game where anything could happen with regards to selection and/or personnel. There’s no doubting that Steve Bruce has some very hard thinking to do between now and Sunday.
Does he stick with 5 at the back against another decent side in Everton or does he revert back to the ‘four-man defence’ and ‘more attacking’ 4-2-3-1 that saw us beat Burnley a few weeks back?
There’s another reason to ask this as there’s a big conundrum with Jacob Murphy now. He looked brilliant at RWB last Sunday and surely can’t be dropped, but where does he fit in if we go back to a four-man defence?
Can we play him at RB and if so, what does that mean for Manquillo, Krafth and Yedlin? It seems the majority think that he seems unlikely to get in ahead of the likes of ASM, Almiron, Fraser and even Joelinton if we play 4-2-3-1.
Also, if we go 4-2-3-1, who will be the two in midfield? Does Schar move into one of those roles? Do we give Sean Longstaff a start? Or does Hayden slot in? So many questions and the answers could be intriguing to say the least. Hendrick must be struggling to keep his place given his current form.
ASM was probably our worst performer last week, but surely he can’t be dropped? If he was, however, he could then play Murphy on the right of a 3 with Miggy in the middle and Fraser on the left. It certainly seems from what Bruce is saying that both Miggy and Fraser will play.
It may be sacrilege to suggest dropping ASM down to the bench but if we once again decide to relinquish possession and sit deep then perhaps using him as an impact substitute might be an option to enable Murphy to retain his place. Controversial perhaps but definitely an answer.
Also does one swallow a summer make. There’s no doubting at all that Murphy was MoTM last week and as such 1,000,000% deserves to keep his place. But remember sentiment wins you nothing. It’s results that matter and harsh as it may seem that might cost Murphy his place.
I loved his performance both on and off the pitch last Sunday and since. He clearly loves Newcastle, has worked fantastically hard to justify his place not just in the “25” but also the match day squad. He speaks passionately about his game and his fight to justify himself.
I think it would be very harsh to leave him out but, the big, big question is. Where do you play him and who misses out?