Steve Bruce facing tough questions at Newcastle United after abject Carabao Cup defeat

Steve Bruce went for it with his Newcastle United starting XI – but his team didn’t go for it on the pitch.

Tuesday, 22nd December 2020, 7:29 pm
Updated Tuesday, 22nd December 2020, 7:49 pm
Josh Dasilva celebrates his goal.
Josh Dasilva celebrates his goal.

And fans will ask what tonight’s embarrassing 1-0 Carabao Cup defeat to Brentford says about Bruce a year and a half into tenure at the club.

Inevitably, there will be more calls for Bruce to go from supporters fed up with below-par performances from a team they feel is capable of pushing up the Premier League.

United's head coach named his strongest starting XI against a much-changed Championship side. However, the players on the pitch put in a weak performance on an awful pitch – and deservedly went out of the cup.

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Sergi Canos of Brentford reacts after a missed chance.

United’s head coach, without a “fatigued” Federico Fernandez, had made four changes to his team.

The likes of Dwight Gayle and Andy Carroll had to be content with a place on the bench along with goalkeeper Mark Gillespie, who had been in goal for the previous rounds.

Brentford manager Thomas Frank made six changes with one eye on the club’s Championship campaign. Crucially, Frank left former Newcastle striker Ivan Toney on his bench at the 17,250-capacity Brentford Community Stadium.

Frank’s side gave as good as they got in an end-to-end start which saw Ethan Pinnock head over from a corner and Wilson force a near-post save from Luke Daniels at the other end of the pitch.

Newcastle were soon living dangerously, and Saman Ghoddos struck the crossbar after a hesitant Ciaran Clark gave the ball away. Minutes later Clark was blasting his team-mates after Brentford put another chance wide.

They were second-best for much of the half, though Ryan Fraser had one shot tipped over and another stopped in front of the line after good work from Wilson.

Jacob Murphy, quiet before the break, was pushed off the ball before he could shoot or cross after receiving a good pass from Sean Longstaff early in the second half.

Newcastle tried to press more, but they were soon on the back foot, and Josh Dasilva – who had tormented Jamal Lewis – put the home side with a well-placed shot after Sergi Canos broke down the left and pulled the ball back.

It was nothing less than the home side deserved. Brentford had had a plan. Had Newcastle?

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