Newcastle United in China: Heavy defeat follows Steve Bruce announcement

Things got worse for Newcastle United in China – but will they get better under Steve Bruce?
Jack Colback at Nanjing's Olympic Sports Centre.Jack Colback at Nanjing's Olympic Sports Centre.
Jack Colback at Nanjing's Olympic Sports Centre.

The team was convincingly beaten 4-0 by Wolverhampton Wanderers in Premier League Asia Trophy this evening in Nanjing. There were also chants against United owner Mike Ashley at the Olympic Sports Centre.

The game had kicked off after Steve Bruce was appointed manager at the club, and the 58-year-old, travelling to China, will be in the dugout in Shanghai on Sunday for the third-place game. Interim manager Ben Dawson handed starts to Jack Colback and Achraf Lazaar, frozen out by former manager Rafa Benitez.

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There was a couple of hundred United fans in the stadium, and the first half, played in 27-degree heat and 90% humidity, was punctuated by “Ashley out” chants. The crowd was excitable, though there wasn’t much to get excited about from a United point of view.

Wolves took the lead in the 15th minute – and didn’t look back. Diogo Jota beat Karl Darlow with a deflected shot from just inside the box after a quick break forward, and Morgan Gibbs-White doubled their advantage just past the half-hour mark. Things got worse. Isaac Hayden was caught in possession, and Jota scored his second goal of the game. Newcastle could have few complaints at the half-time scoreline.

Dawson made three changes at the break, and United steadied themselves. More substitutions followed – Elias Sorensen and Matty Longstaff got opportunities off the bench – and Kelland Watts cleared one shot off the line.

The game had won in the first half by Nuno Espirito Santo’s team. United were better after the break, but they never really troubled Wolves, and Tom Allan put the ball into his own net late in the game to cap a disappointing evening.

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Newcastle’s players, at least, have some certainty now Bruce has been appointed, but the defeat underlined the scale of the task facing Bruce at the club.

NEWCASTLE UNITED: Darlow (Woodman, 46); Sterry (Manquillo, 46), Lascelles (Schar, 46), Clark (Watts, 58), Lazaar (Bailey, 63); Colback (M Longstaff, 63), Hayden, Shelvey (Ki, 58); Murphy (Allan 63), Muto (Sorensen, 63), Ritchie (Aarons, 58).