TalkSPORT’s Gabby Agbonlahor has ripped into Newcastle fans for criticising our style of play under Steve Bruce.
Not only has he branded us as “deluded”, he laughably claims we would “get beat 6-0 every week” if Steve Bruce played the attacking football we all crave – stating the players at his disposal are the issue, not him.
Agbonlahor, who played under Bruce at Aston Villa, also bizarrely asked whether the Toon Army expect Isaac Hayden to be performing at a similar level to Premier League great David Silva – a comment which in itself highlights just how way off the mark he is here!
Despite sitting in a comfortable league position some of our supporters have grown tired of the turgid performances that we have come to expect on a weekly basis, with Newcastle near the top the charts in several unwanted areas such as shots faced, chances created, and possession stats since Bruce’s arrival.
This has clearly angered former England international Agbonlahor, who had this to say on TalkSPORT about our fanbase last night:
“I think, for me, Newcastle fans are quite deluded.
“Let’s look at it, do they want Shelvey to play box-to-box like Henderson? Or do they want Isaac Hayden to get in the pockets like David Silva? I mean, they’re not players who can fill these roles.
“Steve Bruce is doing a great job with the players that he has available. If they play expansive football and open football they’ll get beat 6-0 every game. He’s playing the right formation for the players that he’s got at his disposal and I think that he’s doing a great job there.
“If Rafa Benitez had done the job that Steve Bruce has done they’d be saying he’s a tactical genius and that Rafa is doing an amazing job. But, for some reason, because it’s Steve Bruce, it’s boring.
“To me, it’s not boring, he’s still playing the likes of (Saint) Maximin, he’s brought in Callum Wilson who is a great striker, he’s got Fraser as well, he’s brought in these great players who are attacking. I just think these Newcastle fans need to be careful what they wish for. Do they want to be in the position that Burnley are in? It’s frustrating to hear and needs to stop for me.
“Do they want him to play like Norwich did last season? It’s good on the eye, they play out from the back, you lose it in midfield and you concede four or five a game. That’s not what Newcastle fans are going to want in the long run because they don’t want their team to go back down.”
Agbonlahor has firmly placed his name on the growing list of pundits, some of them former colleagues of Bruce, who have a partisan approach when it comes to defending our current manager.
I, for one, am not a huge advocate for #BruceOut and think that a lot of the criticism directed towards him is unjust and unfair. It is a results business after all, and he hasn’t done too bad in that department. However, something I highly condemn Bruce for on a regular basis is our soul-destroying style of football – something he himself vowed, and so far failed, to improve.
For Agbonlahor to say that we do not have the players to play good football is a myth. With Saint-Maximin, Fraser, Almiron and Wilson, we have the nucleus going forward to turn us into an incredibly exciting, counter-attacking side at Premier League level.
In midfield, we have players who can keep the ball well such as Shelvey, Hayden and the Longstaff brothers. Our backline consists of Schar, Fernandez, and Lejeune (although loaned out), who are all capable of playing out from defence in an attacking system.
What Agbonlahor has done is feed into the ignorant narrative that ‘all Newcastle fans want to win the Champions League,’ and he is very lucky that he said these comments at the end of the show, otherwise he would have no doubt had some very angry Toon fans ringing in.
All we wish for is a club that shows a bit of ambition and a team of the pitch that replicates that message. Adopting a ‘lay and pray’ approach week in, week out, even against sides we should be trying to beat, takes an accumulative toll on supporters who are beginning to dread watching our team play.
It certainly isn’t ‘deluded’ to wish for better than what we are being served up now.