Steve Bruce's position at Newcastle United is now untenable
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On tonight's shambolic evidence, there’s every chance the club will be playing in the Championship next season – unless there’s a managerial change.
Bruce has repeatedly spoken about the “six or seven” teams in the relegation mix, but it looks like being a straight fight between Newcastle and Fulham for the final relegation place – and the momentum isn’t with 17th-placed United going into the international break.
To make matters worse, Isaac Hayden was stretchered off before the break with what looked to be a serious knee injury.
Reflecting on the game, Bruce said: “It’s difficult to digest at the moment. We simply weren’t anywhere near good enough on the night. Fair play to Brighton, they were better in every department.
“We knew we’d have to be good with the ball. It was a very difficult evening for us and a painful one at that.”
Miguel Almiron had made a timely return to the starting XI after recovering from the knee injury he suffered against Wolverhampton Wanderers last month.
The game, however, came to soon for Callum Wilson. Almiron replaced Dwight Gayle in the team, while Javier Manquillo came in for Emil Krafth.
The system stayed the same – Joelinton and Ryan Fraser were Bruce’s “split strikers” – and Brighton took the game to their visitors.
Newcastle struggled to make it out of their own half, and they didn’t do enough with or without the ball. They lacked intensity out of possession, and ideas with the ball. The front three didn’t cause any problems, though Almiron, at least, was a willing runner.
Time and again Brighton attacked, and time and again the ball was cleared. United held on, but they suffered a big blow before the break when Hayden suffered what looked like a serious knee injury after being accidentally caught by Yves Bissouma, and was stretchered off.
Then came another big blow, with Leandro Trossard putting Brighton ahead before the break after latching on to a long ball from Joel Veltman and turning Ciaran Clark.
Newcastle started the second half positively – Fraser struck the post – but the game was all but over in the 51st minute when Danny Wellbeck, in space, cut in from the left and curled the ball home.
Neil Maupay added a third to cap a comprehensive and comfortable victory for a Brighton team which had only won one Premier League home game before the fixture.
“We have to accept that we were nowhere near good enough,” said Bruce. “We have two weeks now to see if we can get one or two players back.
“There’s a lot of disappointment. Over the last few weeks, I’ve seen a degree of togetherness and fight, but we’ve got to be better than we were tonight to give ourselves a chance.”
Bruce, however, might not get the chance to put things right.