Steve Bruce mulls over tactical change at Newcastle United after Matt Ritchie switch
Steve Bruce could again switch Newcastle United’s system against Burnley this afternoon – after the changing formation to get Matt Ritchie into his starting XI.
Ritchie was fielded as a wing-back in a 5-3-2 formation in last weekend’s 2-2 draw against Tottenham Hotspur.
However, Bruce could revert to the diamond midfield and split-striker system that he and assistant manager Graeme Jones had previously used to accommodate fit-again pair Allan Saint-Maximin and Callum Wilson at Turf Moor.
“It was more of a back three last week rather than a five, with Jacob Murphy and Matt Ritchie,” said United head coach Bruce. “We got the balance just right last week, I was very pleased.
"However we did concede twice. One was an awful, awful mistake. That’s the balance we have to get right, and I have that conundrum every week.
"I hope I make the right decision. I’m sure there were a few raised eyebrows last week. The players played very well, and it certainly suited us against Tottenham.”
Ritchie – who rowed with Bruce last month – hadn’t started a game since early January.
The 31-year-old had a hand in both of Newcastle’s goals in the Premier League game.
Asked about Ritchie’s performance against Tottenham, Bruce said: “Certainly, he played his part. He’s one of those characters, when you’re up against it, he gives everything that he’s got for the cause. He’s played like that, and had a successful career by doing that. I was delighted for him.
“One of the reasons we picked that side last week was to get the balance right – and to get him in the team.
“So, yeah, he brought something to us. He added an edge to us.
“He played very very well. The challenge now’s to repeat it, do it again over the next six or seven weeks. I was delighted with Matty. We talk about this row. It is nothing. It was over-hyped, but I’m glad he produced the kind of performance we know he’s capable of.”
Newcastle are 17th in the Premier League – and three points above Fulham with two games in hand – ahead of the Burnley game.