The end can't come soon enough for Newcastle United ahead of takeover decision
The end of the season, surely, can’t come soon enough for Steve Bruce, his players – and the club’s fans.
They watched two jaded teams play out a goalless draw at the Amex Stadium, where there were no fans to lift the flagging players.
A year ago Steve Bruce watched his new team beat West Ham United 1-0 in Shanghai. That day, Bruce could only watch from the stand as he didn't have a visa to work in China.
This evening, Bruce restlessly patrolled his technical area. Bruce’s players ran and sprinted, but they lacked zip.
The result ended a run of defeats, and the clean sheet was welcome after an error-strewn few weeks at the back, but it won’t live long in the memory.
Bruce, again, found himself under pressure ahead of the game following three successive Premier League losses.
United’s head coach – who last week lost Jamaal Lascelles and Fabian Schar to injuries – called up Kelland Watts to his squad, but chose to field right-back Emil Krafth ahead of him in central defence.
That decision irked some fans, and 20-year-old Watts, an unused substitute, will have to wait for his Premier League debut. Bruce also left Matty Longstaff, set to leave the club in the summer, on the bench.
Bruce was helped by the availability of Allan Saint-Maximin, who had limped off the field against Tottenham Hotspur with a calf problem. Andy Carroll also returned after recovering from a groin problem.
If there was one player Bruce needed at the Amex Stadium, it was surely Saint-Maximin, but the winger, playing off Dwight Gayle up front, didn’t get into his stride.
Bruce, again, opted for a five-man defence on a sunny evening at the Amex Stadium, this time with Krafth and Danny Rose either side of Federico Fernandez.
Both teams probed away for the opening 20 minutes without creating much, though Martin Dubravka had to turn a shot from Leandro Trossard round his post after Matt Ritchie lost the ball.
Brighton went on to dominate the first half, but they didn’t create much. Newcastle, sat deep and in numbers, frustrated Graham Potter’s side, but when they did get the ball, they struggled to make it stick.
Gayle had chances either side of the break, and United tried to play with more intensity.
Bruce threw on Carroll and Joelinton, but they couldn’t conjure up a goal. Bruce will have been with his patched-up team’s defensive performance, but they lacked ideas and inspiration in the final third of the pitch.
United have just 90 minutes left to play this season – champions Liverpool visit St James’s Park on Sunday – and what happens after that with the proposed takeover is already of more interest to supporters.