We’ve watched some complete and utter dross during Steve Bruce’s time on Tyneside, but Saturday night’s display in what was billed a relegation six-pointer was arguably our worst performance in his 20 months in charge.
Social media was a toxic place over the weekend, with Newcastle fans making their anger, apathy and all utter deflation known, however I was interested to know what a Brighton fan made of it all.
A few days on from our pre-match chat, here’s what Scott from @WeAreBrighton had to say about it all – believing Shelvey was ‘terrible’, Lascelles has ‘gone backwards’ and that Bruce looked ‘flummoxed’ by Potters tactics and a NUFC side that are no longer playing for him:
Q1: We told you Bruce-ball was bad in our chat before the game…..Now do you see where we’re coming from?
Yeah, Newcastle were not great!
The thing that stood out the most though was that your players did not seem to care. It reminded me very much of when Brighton lost 5-0 at home to Bournemouth in 2018-19 and then 2-0 to Cardiff in the space of four days. The players just downed tools, it was clear they had lost faith with Chris Hughton and his methods and we only stayed up because Cardiff could not quite overhaul us rather than through picking up points ourselves.
That Newcastle squad do not want to play for Steve Bruce and as soon as that happens, the manager has to go or else you are in big trouble.
Q2: You’d won 1 of your last 20 home games in the Premier League before this one, yet we set up like a side hoping to pinch a point at best. What did you make of our set up?
To be fair, it was probably the right approach to take. Before the game, nine of our 10 Premier League wins since the start of 2020 have come in games where we have had less possession. We are miles better playing on the counter against sides who want to try and beat us. When opponents stick 10 men behind the ball and let us keep it, we normally cannot find a way through, miss countless chances and then give up a goal which makes winning all but impossible.
For much of the first half, it looked like that would be the case again. And if Ryan Fraser’s shot goes in rather than hitting the post and us breaking to get the killer second, it is a different game. It was interesting last night that Graham Potter pushed Danny Welbeck and Neal Maupay so wide as to almost be playing as wingers, creating space in the middle for Leandro Trossard to break into. Newcastle seemed to have no idea how to cope with that; your centre backs did not know whether to get dragged wide and Trossard’s late runs caused all kinds of problems. All three scored, which tells you everything.
Bruce seemed completely flummoxed, which goes back to that rather brilliant quote you supplied us with of him being a grandfather clock in a digital age. Would a more tactically astute manager have found a way of counteracting what we were doing? Perhaps. We have never played like that before though, so it will be interesting to see if Potter has come up with a way which suddenly allows us to be as good against sides who sit back as we are when facing more expansive opponents. If we had played our usual way in our normal 3-4-3, it probably would have finished 0-0.
Q3: Bruce’s approach was pathetic, but which NUFC players stood out for you as our worst performers and biggest let downs on the night?
As already said, all of them were awful but stick Shelvey down as the main disappointment. He’s one of those players who should be performing well and dragging you out of the mire but he was terrible.
Lascelles too. For a player who some thought deserved an England call up when Lewis Dunk was on the periphery of the squad a few seasons ago, he seems to have gone backwards.
Newcastle have a good squad on paper, but this was proof that if talented players do not work hard or want to play for a manager then you have had it. When we suffered those similar crushing results against Bournemouth and Cardiff in 2018-19, Hughton dropped all his summer signings and put out pretty much the same team which won us promotion two years earlier. It worked to a degree as those players clearly cared for the club and wanted to play for the manager who got them to the top flight.
Is there anyone at Newcastle though who cares for the club enough or wants to play for Bruce? That is what you need as it looked pathetic.
Q4: You’ve only scored more than two goals in three PL games this season; and two of those were against us in a 0-3 win at SJP and 3-0 win in this one. Are we the worst team you’ve seen come to The Amex this season & why do you feel we’re made for you?
I would say that you and Sheffield United are probably the worst… and we needed an 84th minute equaliser to draw 1-1 at home to the Blades, who played for over an hour with 10 men!
Christ knows why Newcastle are the opponents who everything seems to go right for us against. If you are into the old xG stats, we should have won 1-0 last night according to expected goals. Compare that to our matches with Aston Villa, Crystal Palace and West Brom where we should have scored three in each of those games and yet drew 0-0, lost 2-1 and lost 1-0 respectively.
You just seem to have been the unfortunate victims of Brighton cashing in all their stored up xG from months of disappointment.
Q5: Last but not least, do you think we are going down after that?
Having watched Brighton for the best part of 25 years, you get used to spectacular cock ups – see blowing a seven point lead with three games to go which handed you the Championship title! I would be absolutely astounded after what we saw last night if you managed to overhaul us now though, so fingers crossed it is a two-horse race between you and Fulham for the last spot.
I guess the question is will Fulham be able to overtake you as I cannot see a Bruce-led Newcastle getting out of this for themselves. I can see it going down to the final game of the season when you go to Craven Cottage, which should please Sky Sports who will have some drama to broadcast given the title race is already over! I
f it goes that far, Fulham will probably survive. Sorry guys!