Aston Villa 2-0 Newcastle: Sack him NOW before it’s too late

Thank goodness that Graeme Jones is coming in to fix everything, eh?

This was the second match of Steve Bruce’s tenure of Newcastle United, because, as we all know, he hasn’t been allowed to play his way before the Arsenal match and well…erm… it was terrible….again.

Another appalling effort from this down (in more ways than one the way we’re going), deflated and desperately bad Newcastle United who once again looked anything but a side playing for the current head coach in a 2-0 defeat to Aston Villa that featured no fight, no goal threat and no sign of a response to nine games without a win.

The result also sees us fall to 16th and below Burnley in the table on goal difference, making it TEN without a win and almost SEVEN hours since we last scored a goal.

Both sides came into this game on winless runs; Villa had lost three and had drawn one of their last four outings in all competitions while Newcastle’s form playing somebody else’s way, barring Steve Bruce’s first game against Arsenal, was nine league and cup games resulting in seven losses and two draws.

The squad available to Steve Bruce for this match promised a lot more than what has been seen in recent games, so there were no real excuses for not playing players in positions that actually made sense. Saint Maximin was available for the squad, Fraser was back after suspension, and every position in the team (aside from at centre-back) could be filled without much question of whether it was the “best” available.

Steve Bruce said he wanted to ensure that the team could get “playing 20 or 30 yards higher up the pitch”, so surely, he would pick a team full of pace and attacking flair that could achieve this in a balanced and intelligent way? Surely, he would play his preferred 4-4-2 formation with all the players in the right places?

Did Bruce do this? No.

Bruce opted for a complete change again and what was being reported as a 5-3-2 formation. He made four changes with Hayden, Schar, Manquillo and Hendrick replacing Clark, Longstaff, Krafth and Joelinton.

More pace and power was certainly not added to the team and players such as Fraser, Murphy and Gayle found themselves stuck to the bench.

The big news was the return of Allan Saint-Maximin after injury and Covid issues, but rightly he wasn’t handed an automatic start after his recovery.

However, the takeaway from this news was that had ANOTHER change in formation, ANOTHER new midfield combination, two players starting in Hendrick and Shelvey who have looked especially poor this season, Almiron in a yet ANOTHER different position, and the continued problem of having a complete lack of crossing ability to actually make use of Andy Carroll’s main attributes.

Two minutes into the game, issues were already starting to become apparent such as why was Callum Wilson finding himself on the left wing twice and having to try and cross the ball in. The lack of proper wide presence was already popping up as a problem.

We looked generally ok for five minutes; not necessarily good but ok.

It took 12 minutes for Aston Villa to break the deadlock with absolute dire defending meaning that Watkins could simply nod the ball into the back of the net.

There was a suspicion of offside about the goal but according to Sky commentators, VAR ruled that Schar’s touch of the ball meant that the goal stood.

Darlow’s role in the goal was bizarre and it will be one that he will want to forget, as he challenged Watkins without even raising his hands.

22 minutes in we won a corner and it was fabulously pointless. Shelvey did however get past the first man and Lascelles’s got a head on it but it was cleared by Mings.

The first half hour of the match was… predictable. Villa were in control and Newcastle were helping them keep that control.

31 minutes in, a great Hayden tackle near the Villa box, led to Newcastle experiencing a rare example of being able to threaten. The ball was soon whipped into Carroll but he probably should have done better. 60 seconds later brought the arrival of Aston Villa’s second…which was quickly ruled for offside.

Villa did, however, double their lead eventually on the 41st minute as Traore blasted in the ball from inside the box. It was all too easy for Villa to pass through our defence and create the goal.

This was already a poorer display than the Arsenal match and Steve Bruce’s farcical words of playing it his “way” were somehow becoming more and more farcical by the second.

Newcastle were dithering all over the pitch and every single thing that happened felt inevitable. It was typically passive and pathetic in all areas, with us stinking of a side who’ve lost all faith in the manager.

Jonjo Shelvey would pass the ball now and then but ultimately wandered around like he was going on stroll round the park, while Jeff Hendrick proved that he is the football equivalent of wearing glasses with eyeballs drawn on them to pretend you’re awake.

There was no hope at half time. There was no hint of improvement coming in the second half and Bruce decided to stick to his guns with no changes being made after the break.

The second half, unsurprisingly, started in a similar fashion with Villa attacking well on the 47th minute but Darlow was able to save the rather tame shot with his knees.

Carroll picked up a yellow card for a nasty, late tackle in the 54th minute created from the continued lack of pressure and closing down from the team.

Lascelles followed quickly afterwards on the 56th minute perhaps proving that any semblance of discipline had seeped away.

After 60 minutes, it was clear that Bruce had told the players to keep doing what they were doing because there was no change in play at all. If an ‘attack’ did come from Newcastle then it petered out with little threat to Villa’s keeper. It was at this time that I started wondering where my cat was. It wasn’t clear at this point how Newcastle were to shape any sort of viable chance and it definitely didn’t seem to be through dead balls as Shelvey’s free kick was easily cleared.

Manquillo suffered a nasty but fair tackle on the 62nd minute and needed some treatment before continuing. Villa again threatened to score with some acrobatics from Ross Barkley but it went over the bar – another lucky escape as we somehow kept it at 2-0.

On the 70th minute, Bruce decided to make some changes with Carroll and Manquillo being replaced by Fraser and Saint-Maximin. Although these changes were welcome, it all felt too little, too late.

A little bit of luck and some good play on the 71st minute between Almiron and Fraser created something that probably could have been a lot better but showed that there was some quality in the team not being shown.

Villa could have easily scored on the 72nd minute as Shelvey lost the ball poorly in the middle of the park, allowing five Villa players to bare down on goal.

Strangely enough, crosses started to gain more quality when two wingers were on the pitch but with the purpose-built Carroll off the pitch, they all simply landed next to defenders.

Newcastle started to gain more of the ball in the last ten minutes of the 78th minute mark but part of this felt more like Villa knew they could relax without fear of any proper threat.

On the 80th minute Gayle replaced Almiron for his 100th Newcastle appearance. Was this now a 4-4-2 formation?

After staring at my wall for 5 minutes, we were near the Villa box but nothing of note happened and I started wondering what my wall was up to again.

This match was atrocious and again showed how utterly useless Steve Bruce is as Newcastle manager. There was no fight, there was no proper plan, there was nothing. There was no point in us travelling to Birmingham and it probably would have made more sense for us to send some flowers and a card excusing ourselves from the match.

We have the worst form in the league and we are dropping like a slab of cement.

This was a car crash of a match that made Jack Grealish’s driving antics seem like minor bumps against the curb.

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103 thoughts on “Aston Villa 2-0 Newcastle: Sack him NOW before it’s too late

  1. Sharpy17: We drew with Lpool too mate, but which of our players will Klopp come looking for?

    Was a bit tongue in cheek mate. And the players had not been thoroughly Bruced when we played those teams. He is so negative now that he reminds me of Pards in his waning days at NUFC when he wouldnt come out of the dugout.

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  2. Eric Sykes:
    interesting, if sprawling article from Ryder saying Jones will be the first team coach and that Harper is vocal. Also that the youth coach is still in the 1st team picture.

    What do the Steves do (Agnew and Clemence)? Isnt this undermining Bruce’s authority and judgement by going over his head? They are pretty much saying the Steves are out or have very little say from now on. Arnt the players going to get a bit confused with 5 coaches now, plus Bruce, who isnt the most cogent at the best of times?

    Who do they listen to? Who has authority? Who carries the bags of balls and puts out the cones? That would be the Steves, right. It is like the movie Office Space where they keep moving the employee Milton to worse and worse offices until he eventually ends up in the basement. He does eventually burn the place down so I would watch out for the Steves if I was Charnley.

    My main question is who identified Graeme Jones and why would Ashley sanction it and not just sack Bruce? Olly thinks it is money. I think there are no takers for the NUFC job.

    https://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/steve-bruce-newcastle-united-stay-19694169

    These were my comments for where we stand from the last page. I dont usually look back at previous pages and I doubt many others do.

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  3. kimtoon:
    Fair points Sharpy but i still think our players are better than what we are seeing, you only have to look at how well organised they were under Rafa and how good we were looking towards the end of his time here.
    Losing him and Rondon was so damaging to us.
    Even so, look at the attacking talent left on our bench saturday, effing criminal.

    Kim – some of them, yes I agree & collectively they could definitely be organised better to perform better as a team.
    Rafa definitely done it. Collectively our defence & midfield looked better. But even he couldn’t do anything with players like Shelvey, Yedlin, Ritchie for example.

    We’ve added some quality to what Rafa had in ASM, Wilson & maybe Fraser (who has potential but needs to prove it), but I think beyond them, there aren’t too many more would get an above average rating.

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  4. Dubs, Darlow, Wilson, ASM, Almiron, Hayden, Lascelles, Fraser, Manquillo, Fernandez, Murphy, Matty Longstaff , Gayle are all very good players

    E Anderson looks like he could be good , not seen enough yet.
    Carrol committed but passed it i fear
    Schar good but error prone and a red card waiting
    Sean seems to of regressed or is in fear of breaking down again perhaps ? not effective anymore
    Dummett good player but injury prone
    Yedlin, he’s gone i think and wasn’t all that anyway
    Lewis too lightweight at the moment but could improve under right coach
    Hendrick just don’t understand what he brings, strange signing
    Richie not offering much anymore probs better off in championship now
    Shelvey, nope, needs to go too slow and offers nowt
    Atsu been told to find a new club
    Krafth Too slow and unimpressive performances so far
    Clark good but not outstanding if we’re honest
    Saivet been told to find another club
    Joelinton last on my list , the worst player to ever don the number 9 for the Toon imo useless

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  5. Craig Hope
    @CraigHope_DM
    Steve Bruce said during his press conference, “I will never shy away”. And then refused to take questions from newspapers #nufc

    😆

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  6. Kim – I would say the following:

    Darlow & Dub – both above average.

    Lascelles, Fernandez generally above average. Manquillo can be above average but inconsistent. The rest are average on a good day.

    Hayden is our only CM who is above average. Matty has potential but has a lot to prove. On current form Sean is below average and Shelvey & Hendrick are below average.

    Wide players – ASM is above average, Frazer has potential but is living on 1 good season at Bmth – needs to prove himself. Murphy, Ritchie & Atsu are below average.

    Almiron works hard but creates little – average with potential to be better id say. Joelinton is just really bad.

    Forwards – Wilson is above average, Gayle & Carroll are not.

    I’d say 7 of our 25 player squad are above average, but as 2 are keepers then only 6 that can play at the same time. That’s not great.

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  7. Stealing some lines from the match write up, but…

    The Graeme Jones era starts tomorrow, only 2 matches after the Steve Bruce era started 🙂

    I am surprised there has not been more talk about how this undermines Bruce and especially the Steves. If they thought they could get other jobs they would resign. But who else would employ them? They have followed Bruce around like lost puppies for years as he has kept his 1 point per game and one goal per game record going.

    I think Villa getting promoted after sacking Bruce is the most damning indictment of Steve Bruce. And then they just brushed us aside in the last match and didnt even seem like they were trying that hard. Didnt need to get out of the proverbial second gear.

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  8. kimtoon:
    Craig Hope
    @CraigHope_DM
    Steve Bruce said during his press conference, “I will never shy away”. And then refused to take questions from newspapers #nufc

    😆

    Kim – it’s not a move that is going to improve or strengthen his position.
    All I can assume is that he feels the written press are manipulating his works and editing to suit their agenda.

    It’s horrible seeing our club in this position again.

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  9. Sharpy: you have just described every bottom half team. Some average players, some below average players and a sprinkling of good players. We have 6 or 7 who would start for Brighton, Fulham, Leeds, Sheffield, Palace, Burnley and West Brom – no question.

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  10. Eric Sykes:
    Sharpy: you have just described every bottom half team. Some average players, some below average players and a sprinkling of good players. We have 6 or 7 who would start for Brighton, Fulham, Leeds, Sheffield, Palace, Burnley and West Brom – no question.

    I think all of those teams have worse squads than us which is why I figured we would finish 12th. I didnt account for the Bruce death spiral which I should have and didnt account for the other 2 Steves being clueless.

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  11. And where did all of the cow-towing and sucking up to Bruce get The Chronicle? Banned again. Ryder finally turned about a week ago but has been spouting the Kremlin line since Comrade Bruce arrived. I give him no credit for that. He is like the pundit pals of Brucie now stating the obvious coz they have actually watched some of our games and dont want to look even more stupid than they already are.

    The Mag does some samples of pre and post game comments of other teams’ fans. They are universally scathing of Bruce and our play. Most make fun of us which is harsh from the likes of Villa who were so shyte even 6 months ago.

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  12. So Steve Bruce never shys away from anything and then refuses to answer questions from the written press. Waking contradiction this man.

    His pearls of wisdom were there for all to see this morning. This was one of his whoppers to Sky Sports:

    “I’ve seen little bits, we got into some good areas and crossed it the other night”. Wow! Just wow. Expectations are low these days that he thinks that’s encouraging.

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  13. Eric Sykes: I think all of those teams have worse squads than us which is why I figured we would finish 12th. I didnt account for the Bruce death spiral which I should have and didnt account for the other 2 Steves being clueless.

    Eric – I think a good season in terms of injuries & a bit of luck, with a decent manager & 12th is probably a good finish with this squad – but that is basically what the pundits are saying. A new manager wouldn’t get much more out of this squad 🤷🏼‍♂️.

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  14. Stuart79:
    So Steve Bruce never shys away from anything and then refuses to answer questions from the written press. Waking contradiction this man.

    His pearls of wisdom were there for all to see this morning. This was one of his whoppers to Sky Sports:

    “I’ve seen little bits, we got into some good areas and crossed it the other night”. Wow! Just wow. Expectations are low these days that he thinks that’s encouraging.

    Stu – yeah I saw that too. All those crosses & we had 1 shot on target – I’m guessing that was his silver lining in an otherwise massive grey cloud.

    I expect the written press highlighted his contradictions & have been turned away. I’d like to see ALL media have the bottle to challenge what he’s saying when it is so obviously nonsense.

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  15. Sharpy – I’m actually quite disappointed that all the media didn’t boycott the who press conference. It’s North Korea and Chinese style cooperation

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  16. Kier Starmer in self isolation for the throes time… is he going to get criticised for putting himself in a position where he could be exposed like the PM did?

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  17. I am not even sure that Bruce even knows what he is talking about now. He is confused. He knows the Steves are as good as gone and there is a caretaker in waiting. He sees the writing on the wall because he has seen it so many times before – because he is shyte.

    He says his experience will get him through. But his “experience” is on running out on teams when he gets a better offer or of being sacked. He runs out on sh!t teams to go to marginally less sh!t teams. Like when he went to Brum or Wigan or even the Mackems.

    He has experience of death spirals THAT HE CALLS BAD RUNS OF FORM. He has experience of 1 point and 1 goal per game at every PL team he has been to. He has experience of employing the Steves when they cannot even coach Shelvey to take a corner.

    He has more than 20 years of below mediocrity. How the hell he got the jobs he had I have no clue.

    He has experience of making excuses, insulting peoples’ intelligence and getting by on being supposedly a nice guy. I would even question that as his true colours come out when he is cornered.

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  18. And the funny thing is that I think I am being nice to Bruce here. I could say a lot worse and use a lot more swear words 🙂

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  19. AND…AND… For all the money you have made in football. Fix that nose. It would probably cost about 3 grand.

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  20. Yeah Olly. I was quite calm because of who we played over Xmas but I am proper riled up now about Bruce. Sheffield and Villa are not Man City. Arsenal had lost 5 home games I think even though they had picked up recently.

    The excuses from Bruce. It just gets depressing after a while and now seeing them go into KGB mode with the press (after KGB Covid) just makes you wonder when will it end.

    We all know HOW it will end. They are telegraphing that with the new manager in waiting. But there is the BIGGER HOW. And that is will they wait too long AGAIN and will we get relegated? Graeme Jones is the stopgap but who will we get when Bruce inevitably fails as he has done in this situation for his entire career (if you can call failure a career, I stress 1 point and 1 goal per game).

    Graeme Jones is not our new manager whatever he thinks about his chances. But I would take it. He has nothing to lose and nothing to live up to because of the Bruce Death Spiral. It is like Ugly John Carver – what did he have to lose? He had no reputation to tarnish, just like this Graeme Jones character who I had never heard of until 2 days ago.

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  21. I would take Choudhury with that deal. £10m is nowt really.

    I know he done Ritchie. But I’d let Ritchie go back Bmth in that swap deal for Billing. That would give us 2 very good CMs.

    I’d go further and get Jetro in for the LB cover we’d lose in Ritchie, and I’d bring Lingard in for the wide forward cover Ritchie also offers.

    Sell Shelvey to whoever wants him to cover the costs if needs be.

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  22. Are the EU serious organisation ? They now threatening to block exports of AZ vaccine to the UK because they’re not getting as many vaccines as they ordered. They haven’t even approved yet ffs! The Germans are also spreading rumours that the AZ vaccine is only 8% effective in those older than 65. Can anybody explain to me how the authorities here would approve it if that was the case?

    But regardless of all that – don’t the EU come across as really nice people? I mean, if this was Russia or China they’d be up in The Hague on anti humanitarian charges!

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