Steve Bruce can reflect on the positives - but this is the harsh reality for Newcastle United

The wait for a trophy goes on for Newcastle United.

By Jordan Cronin
Wednesday, 25th August 2021, 10:01 pm
Newcastle United head coach Steve Bruce. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Newcastle United head coach Steve Bruce. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

On an evening where there were plenty of positives for Steve Bruce, the end outcome was a Carabao Cup exit to Burnley at the first hurdle.

The reality is, the Magpies should have been out of sight in normal time but a penalty shootout defeat means it’s 52 years since the club last lifted silverware.

Bruce will reflect on his side’s dominance throughout but United fans will take no comfort in that.

RINGING THE CHANGES

Bruce promised to take the Carabao Cup seriously and named nine changes from the 2-0 defeat at Aston Villa.

Jeff Hendrick started – and starred – against his former club, while Jamal Lewis, Javier Manquillo and Dwight Gayle also made their first appearances of the season.

Allan Saint-Maximin and Joe Willock played the final quarter of an hour, with their introduction bringing the biggest roar of the night from the 30,082-strong crowd.

THE MIDFIELDER THREE

Sean Longstaff slotted into the Jonjo Shelvey-type role, if you like, by playing in the middle and sitting the deeper of the three.

Ryan Fraser occupied the left and Hendrick the right. The latter was given the license to push forward against the Clarets, and he pressed ever so well.

A roar of “shoot” from the Gallowgate, the end in which Newcastle attacked towards the first-half, was taken up by Hendrick and he narrowly hit wide.

Indeed, Hendrick was at the heart of United’s chances as his shot from the edge of the box was deflected over by a Burnley defender.

Fraser, as a natural wide player, provided a threat when he drifted out to the left – delivering some dangerous yet unmet crosses.

The wing-backs of Lewis and Manquillo provided plenty of width and energy throughout – constantly over-running the Clarets’ back four.

For all of United’s spirit and possession, Wayne Hennessey had barely been tested in the opening 45 minutes.

NEWCASTLE HAD THEIR CHANCES

The opening exchanges of the second-half continued in a similar vein, apart from this time Hennessey produced heroics.

An outstanding save from the Wales international denied Hendrick from six yards out after Emil Krafth’s cross was scuffed by Joelinton into his path.

Dwight Gayle finally got a sniff at goal, only for the underside of the crossbar to stand in his way following Ciaran Clark’s precise ball over the top.

Krafth and Clark overlapping both the wing-backs was a constant theme, a formula that caused huge problems before the introduction of Charlie Taylor and Chris Wood made Burnley a bit much structured.

WILLOCK & SAINT-MAXIMIN INTRODUCED

The St James’s Park crowd burst into light when Saint-Maximin and Willock readied to come on, just as Manquillo, who was substituted, forced another terrific save from Hennessey.

The pair had only been on the pitch three minutes and brought yellow cards on Josh Brownhill and McNeil.

Miguel Almiron was then called upon in the final seven minutes and was trialled in attack alongside Joelinton.

All three added an extra incentive but Bruce’s side couldn’t find a hugely deserved breakthrough.

Burnley delivered the sucker punch on penalties with Hennessey saving Saint-Maximin and Almiron’s penalties.

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