Steve Bruce ready to disappoint Newcastle United fans demanding a change – here's why

Fans expecting a tactical change up top at Newcastle United will be disappointed – as Steve Bruce is backing his system to lift the club away from the bottom.

Sunday, 14th March 2021, 8:00 am
Dwight Gayle talks to Joelinton before the game.

Bruce has used a “split striker” system, with a No.10 behind them, since coach Graeme Jones’s arrival in late January.

However, the loss of Callum Wilson, Allan Saint-Maximin and Miguel Almiron – who had been filling those positions – to injuries has blunted the formation.

Bruce fielded Dwight Gayle on the left and Joelinton on the right in last night’s 1-1 draw against Aston Villa at St James’s Park. Ryan Fraser was given the No.10 role, though Gayle was moved inside after the break.

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There have been calls from fans for a tactical change – and a central role for Gayle, and Bruce responded to complaints about the system after the game.

“We’ve played a certain way for the past six or seven weeks now,” said United’s head coach.

"I spoke briefly on it last week, and said we didn’t want to change the shape – or the way we’ve gone about it.

“That’s how we’re trying to play. I’ll be a bit more technical, and say we’re playing with split strikers, if you like, but that’s the way we’ve gone about our work. I changed him (Gayle) and Ryan just after half-time. That’s the way we’ve set up, and that’s the way we’re going to continue.”

The result, a third successive draw for Newcastle, did nothing to allay relegation fears on Tyneside ahead of next weekend’s game against Brighton and Hove Albion at the Amex Stadium.

Bruce, for his part, was heartened with the “desire” of his team to get back into the game after conceding a deflected goal in the 86th minute.

Captain Jamaal Lascelles headed a 94th-minute equaliser after Jacob Murphy – who impressed off the bench – crossed from the left.

“When you concede a goal like we did, and hit the bar, then it’s disappointing,” said Bruce. “But the one thing I was really pleased about was the desire. It would have been extremely cruel if we hadn’t have taken something from the match."

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