Miles Starforth's analysis: Newcastle United are on the up under Steve Bruce – but thousands are STILL staying away

Newcastle United have made their best start to a Premier League for five years, yet fans are still staying away. When will they be back?

Sunday, 8th December 2019, 8:07 pm
Jonjo Shelvey celebrates his goal.

There were 10,000 empty seats at St James’s Park for this afternoon’s 2-1 win over Southampton.

A crowd of 42,303, the lowest for a Premier League game since November 2010, saw Steve Bruce’s spirited team come from behind for the third successive home game. The result lifted the club, which now has 22 points, up to 10th in the Premier League.

Thousands of fans are simply staying away in protest at the direction of the club under Mike Ashley, even though Bruce – who gave his view on the attendance after the game – has taken the team up the Premier League table.

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There are more winnable games coming up, but when will those stayaway fans be won over?

Bruce, United’s head coach, had only made one change, recalling Joelinton to the starting XI at the expense of Andy Carroll. Joelinton, however, wasn’t able to make an impact.

Allan Saint-Maximin threatened whenever he had the ball. Newcastle had Martin Dubravka to thank for two first-half saves from Nathan Redmond.

Bruce replaced Ciaran Clark with Fabian Schar for the second half, and the defender, making his first appearance since mid-October, failed to deal with a long ball forward in the 52nd minute.

Ings, ahead of Federico Fernandez, beat Dubravka with a low finish to put Southampton ahead as the rain again came down at a sodden St James’s Park.

Carroll replaced Joelinton for the last half-hour, and the striker quickly made an impact. He took the ball on the right byline and delivered a left-footed cross to the far post. Shelvey saw it coming, and headed home to make it three goals in three games – and four from six.

It got better for Newcastle. Substitute Sean Longstaff had a shot parried three minutes from time, and Fernandez was there to finish. Saint-Maximin suffered a late injury.

United are on the up, even if the crowds aren’t – yet.