Steve Bruce has stubbornly stood by his beliefs that this Newcastle side have to be ‘a bit pragmatic’ and set up defensively so they can ‘keep in games’.
You’d think this was his post-match defence after we’d stuck 11 men behind the ball and started with a back five away at Anfield, but no – it couldn’t be a further from the truth.
The scary reality is that this comes after Bruce played a 5-4-1 formation, FOUR centre-backs (Dummett being one at wing-back) and just one attacking midfielder in Ryan Fraser against a bottom of the table Sheffield United side who hadn’t won a league game in SIX months before last night.
“I’ll still stick to my beliefs that we still have to be a bit pragmatic and maintain a certain way that, defensively, is keeping us in the games we’re involved in.”
“Apart from the last month, which we knew was going to be difficult with the run of fixtures we’d had, we’ve give ourselves a decent start to the season.
“We’re not even half way there yet, and of course we’re all disappointed we haven’t picked up enough points over the last five or six games.”
That first line is harrowing considering we were away to a winless side who’d taken two points from a possible 51 this season – but it gets worse.
Bruce then said this to Lee Ryder when asked to explain his tactic last night:
“Too defensive in the approach?
“Well we have played the same sort of way and I have changed the personnel at the top end of the pitch to try to give us something a little bit different because we haven’t scored enough or created enough.
“That was my thinking, playing Ryan Fraser and Sean Longstaff as two false number 10s instead of Miguel Almiron and Big Joe.
“Of course, because of the games we’ve had I tried to pick a team with a certain freshness.
“I wanted to see if something different would work.
“In hindsight what I needed was to get in at half-time to change things around but unfortunately the red card put pay to that.”
Two ‘false No 10’s’? Defending a team that featured Paul Dummett at wing-back? Bemoaning Fraser’s red card as if he had some half-time master plan up his sleeve as if that would’ve changed it all?
It would be nice if he just held his hands up and admitted he got it all wrong and needs to go back to the drawing board after failing to get the best out of what is actually a pretty capable squad in areas.
Instead, we’ll probably just “roll our sleeves up”, “dust ourselves down” and “go again”.
No plan. No idea. No hope.