West Brom 0-0 Newcastle: A painful watch as Bruce plays for point that may not be enough

A truly turgid 90 minutes of football – hardly a surprise when Steve Bruce and Sam Allardyce collide – yet pitiful when you consider what a win would have meant.

Injuries and ‘bust-ups’ aside, the total lack of urgency to go and get what would’ve been a huge three points against the most beatable side in the division was painful to watch.

Saying that, I imagine Steve Bruce will be ‘delighted’ with a clean sheet and draw that takes us four clear of the drop zone as things stand, with our uninspiring approach in this one stinking of the extremely low standards our manager and owner tend to set.

We played like a side who felt a draw would be a decent result – yet it will turn out to be an absolute disaster if Fulham get anything at Anfield or we fail to get a win from upcoming games against Villa (H) and Brighton (A).

The lack of quality on display was painful to watch when we knew the importance of three points. There wasn’t a great deal between the two sides but that in itself is worrying when the side we were up against looked every bit a Championship side.

There could be no excuses going into the game. Yes we had injury issues of our own, but we were facing an unchanged West Brom side featuring 11 players who’d been asked to play three games in eight days – not to mention the fact they had an abysmal home record and the worst defence in the league by some distance. Sadly, we couldn’t make the most of either.

The frustration before the game was Bruce’s team selection. He didn’t have a great amount to work with – Wilson, ASM and Almiron are all huge misses – but Hendrick’s inclusion, no Gayle and sticking with Krafth when Manquillo was fit raised questions when the team sheets were announced.

The lack of pace in our side was a concern, however there was some hope Willock could thrive in a slightly more advanced role.

Our first big opening arrived six minutes in. Fraser found himself in space as we looked to counter and was put in down the left via a Hayden through ball. We had a man over on the far side in Joelinton and Willock arriving in the box, but Fraser’s cut-back was intercepted and the chance gone – and it was a big one had we got it right!

A promising start and sign we could get in behind this slow Baggies back line, however we were then left with our hands on our heads just five minutes later. Again it was a counter attack, only this time it was Joelinton who was put in down the right. He had the pace and power to shrug off Townsend, but his attempt to give Fraser a tap in at the back post was cut out via some brilliant last ditch defending.

Some will slate the Brazilian for not shooting and yes it was another huge opportunity that failed to finish in the back of the net, however it was a whisker away from being a brilliant assist and certain goal.

West Brom then had a chance of their own, with a Townsend cross that wasn’t closed down finding an unmarked Perreira in the box. Thankfully, their Brazilian didn’t get a hold of his shot and struck straight at Dubravka. A let off for us and sloppy marking all around.

25 minutes in and it had quickly turned into the scrappy affair most were anticipating, with both sides struggling to stamp their authority on the game and build regular attacks – although a Bartley flick on from a long throw was thankfully blazed over by Diagne.

We then had a half chance of our own, with a Fraser corner straight from the training ground being cut-back to Shelvey. His shot was scuffed but could’ve easily gone past Johnstone after taking a late deflection.

Our early breaks on the counter were a promising sign early on, but the Baggies were now growing into the game and the side enjoying a bit more prolonged pressure as we edged closer to the half-time.

Willock was seeing less of the ball in that pocket between midfield and attack and those balls over the top to set Fraser or Joelinton free were few and far between. It was as if they’d worked out our only threat and we had no plan B.

The whistle went and both sides went in a the break at 0-0. Two early breaks aside (that ended with poor final ball), it was a classic Allardyce vs Bruce affair, with long balls and sloppy passing the order of the day.

Going into the second half, both teams must’ve surely known that a draw did little for either of us. The question was, who’d want it most?

Sadly, the final 45 started as the first finished, with a lack of quality or intensity on display from either side – until the home side picked it up and saw Phillips blaze over after another navy and white shirt was given too much space in the box. Like Perreira and Diagne’s chances in the first half, it was another let off and lacklustre piece of defending.

That sparked Bruce into action, with Dwight Gayle stripped before the hour mark and set to come on against his former club. Hendrick made way after offering next to nothing for 55 minutes and Gayle’s arrival saw him slot in between Fraser and Joelinton up top, with Willock moving to the right-hand side of a midfield three.

The change was a positive one but we continued to look desperate and aimless in our approach, with West Brom showing far more urgency and as they picked up the tempo both on and off the ball.

With a quarter of the game to go, we were almost looking like a side who’d be happy with a point in hope that Fulham would lose at Liverpool – meaning the gap would go from three to four.

A chance then arrived at Joelinton’s feet after a good driving run from Willock. The latter picked the wrong pass in truth, but our £40m man’s left footed strike was weak and easily saved. In a game as turgid as this one, it had to go down as a very decent chance!

At this point we should’ve been ending the game stronger given we were facing a side who’d played three times in eight days, yet it was the hosts who were looking far more likely to grab a late winner – while we struggled to string two passes together and opted for hoof ball in a pathetic attempt to get all three points.

The full-time whistle went and it ended 0-0 – a result that does very little for our league position, yet enough to keep Bruce in a job you’d think.

Let’s hope and pray Liverpool end their winless run at Anfield with a victory over Fulham – a result that is anything but a given based on their recent form and wholesale changes…

About Olly Hawkins

Olly has been a Junior Magpie from birth. As a season ticket holder and avid Newcastle United fan - he eats, sleeps and breathes all things NUFC.

102 thoughts on “West Brom 0-0 Newcastle: A painful watch as Bruce plays for point that may not be enough

  1. Sharpy – this was the offside query:

    I played the game to a decent standard and have watched for further decades and I still don’t get the offside rules. For example Maxi was ruled off side when he knocked in the block from the keeper yet Lingard scored from a block by the keeper and it stood. What was the difference?
    And now with VAR players are given when it’s only one stud or a shirt sleeve. Why?

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  2. georgio:
    Sharpy – this was the offside query:

    I played the game to a decent standard and have watched for further decades and I still don’t get the offside rules. For example Maxi was ruled off side when he knocked in the block from the keeper yet Lingard scored from a block by the keeper and it stood. What was the difference?
    And now with VAR players are givenwhen it’s only one stud or a shirt sleeve. Why?

    Georgio – Lingards was as a result of a penalty save though mate wasn’t it?

      (Quote)

  3. The VAR offsides are killing the game though imo mate.

    I know you get the likes of Gary Neville saying it’s all about getting the right result – but when a forward is getting offside because by pointing where he wants the ball played means his shirt sleeve puts him a millimetre passed the final defender – that’s removing any sort of entertainment or excitement.

    I also hate this delay on giving an absolutely obvious offside.
    It’s only a matter of time before a defender wipes out a forward, only for it to be reviewed and pulled back for offside. The forward gets seriously injured as a result of a passage of play that should never have happened.

    I don’t think VAR should get involved at all. I think it should quietly monitor the game but have no input. The ref officiates the game as they used to – but the manager of each side gets 1 challenge each half if they think something was missed or the ref got it wrong & the decision needs reviewed.

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  4. I dont really care about the diving apart from Grealish who has made an art form out if it. It is the offsides. 3 minutes to make their mind up.

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  5. Oh joy the bullying p rat that is Piers Morgan has left GMB
    There is a God.
    Now can he just see his way to ridding us of Bruce too.

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  6. Grealish is a brilliaHendrick andnt player apart from his diving. We need 2 on him and that is not Shelvey and God Forbid Donkey-Linton.

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  7. VAR again in the City game.

    Blatant penalty for City but because Foden tried to score rather than go to ground it wasn’t given.
    But watching it back it’s clear the contact from the keeper stopped Foden from scoring & didn’t overturn or award the penalty.

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  8. Sharpy – are there separate rules for penalties then? Still don’t understand.
    Grealish out tomorrow!

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  9. georgio:
    Sharpy – are there separate rules for penalties then? Still don’t understand.
    Grealish out tomorrow!

    Is he though, they said doubtful last i read .

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  10. georgio:
    Sharpy – are there separate rules for penalties then? Still don’t understand.
    Grealish out tomorrow!

    Yeah mate, ones open play and the penalty is a dead ball – as part of the set up for a penalty all other plays HAVE to be outside the box & therefore behind the ball.
    Because the keeper saved it it kept Lingard onside – but if it rebounded of the post & no opposing player touched the ball, then if he scored that rebound it wouldn’t have stood.

    The worst one I’ve seen was the Man City one this season against Villa.
    Rodri was miles offside but the goal stood. I know they’ve since decided to change the rules so that would be offside now – but it’s a crazy ruling.

    I played CB in my playing days & the offside rule done my nut in.

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  11. georgio:
    It’s a quote from Dean Smith on BBC.

    Grealish is an outstanding player, but to be fair, Villa still look strong without him.

    It’s not like Palace where is Zaha is missing they crumble – Villa have a really strong squad & a good manager to organise them and make sure they don’t drop off.

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  12. The Chronicle
    @ChronicleNUFC
    “We were going along very, very nicely until Covid hit.”

    Bruce

      (Quote)

  13. kimtoon:
    The Chronicle
    @ChronicleNUFC
    “We were going along very, very nicely until Covid hit.”

    Bruce

    What games was he watching? He didnt play Miggy or Fraser. He still played Donkey-Joe.

    We were terrible except against West Ham and Everton.

    Were we “going along nicely” against Brighton at home?

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  14. Great work Olly with the Villa fans. I think we knew it all along but is good to get it confirmed.

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  15. kimtoon:
    The Chronicle
    @ChronicleNUFC
    “We were going along very, very nicely until Covid hit.”

    Bruce

    Kim – and he’ll say that to the like of Charnley & Ashley & they’ll lap it up as well. Look at how COVID has affected Liverpool he’ll tell them & they’ll believe it.
    They’ll believe it because Bruce himself believes it.

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  16. Eric Sykes:
    Great work Olly with the Villa fans. I think we knew it all along but is good to get it confirmed.

    Agree, someone needs to show it to his pals in the media.

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  17. I think it is a draw because Bruce doesn’t know what the hell he is doing. We could easily win even with our best players out. A Grealish-less Villa is not that good. But Bruce is Shyte.

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  18. Just so anybody knows what that avatar is.

    It is Seahouses looking to Bambrough Castle.

      (Quote)

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