The return of Sean Longstaff, Yoshinori Muto class & Steve Bruce's impact - Nine Newcastle United positives from their West Ham win

Sean Longstaff was back, Yoshinori Muto had his best game in black and white and Steve Bruce’s tweaks seemed to make a difference as Newcastle United finished their Premier League Asia Trophy campaign with a win in Shanghai.

By Liam Kennedy
Saturday, 20 July, 2019, 12:33

Here’s nine things our Newcastle writer Liam Kennedy took from the China victory.

Steve Bruce impact felt

Newcastle United's Jonjo Shelvey (C) vies for the ball with West Ham's Andriy Yarmolenko (L) during their match for the third place at the 2019 Premier League Asia Trophy football tournament at the Hongkou Stadium in Shanghai, on July 20, 2019. (Photo by HECTOR RETAMAL / AFP) (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)

Whisper it, but it definitely looked like Steve Bruce had an impact on this side.

It may have just been the fact that he was there and players felt like they had a point to prove, but given he has had a hand in picking the side and training in recent days, would suggest it's a little more than that.

Whatever you think of his qualifications for the job, he's a whole lot more qualified than youth coaches Neil Redfearn and Ben Dawson. That told with the shape and organisation.

Formation switch - 3-5-2 - brought more defensive solidity

That change in shape was particularly telling when looking at the United backline.

They were all at sorts against Wolves, who felt like they could score at every opportunity.

United were anything but mostly against the Hammers.

Jamaal Lascelles was impressive in the centre of the three while Fabian Schar was his usual comfortable self on the ball.

Yoshinuri Muto the brightest of bright sparks

The Japanese striker really made an impact for United in Shanghai.

His movement with and without the ball caused West Ham all kind of problems - the Hammers' backline could just not pick the frontman up.

And it was this kind of movement which saw his ghost into space for his goal, which was a finish of the highest order.

Elias Sorensen's first start - much to like about the striker

The young Dane started his first game and should have had his first goal, after missing a gilt-edged chance in the opening 10 minutes.

But, that aside, there was a lot to like about the youth striker. He's big, can hold the ball up, has decent feet and judging by his youth scoring record can finish. A positive 45.

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The 23-year-old looked all at sorts against Wolves on Wednesday but he was excellent for United in their adjusted formation.

Asked to do less of the defensive work which saw him struggle in a 4-4-2, the full-back excelled on the right of a 3-5-2.

His delivery long before his pinpoint cross for Muto's goal was right on the money.

Will definitely have impressed Bruce with this performance.

Split central midfield three freed Jonjo Shelvey

Jack Colback and Isaac Hayden split to create plenty of space for Shelvey in the middle. This allowed the West Ham transfer target to dictate things for the first hour or so.

Colback went left, with Hayden out wide right. And as well as allowing cover for the two wide full-backs, it also freed up Shelvey to play to his strengths.

Flooding the box - chalk and cheese from Wolves

In the first half at least United showed much more of an attacking intent.

The likes of Hayden and Colback broke into the box at will as United looked for an opener.

In the second 45 that intensity dropped a little.

Jacob Murphy - a useful cameo

Played as a striker - mostly due to United's lack of options - but his pace made a big difference in the final third.

One brilliant break and cutback after just coming on showed how dangerous the winger, whose name was spelled incorrectly on the back of his shirt, can be in full flow.

Murphy or Murhpy? He looked like a new player.

The return of Sean Longstaff

It will be very pleasing for Newcastle United fans to see Longstaff back on the field.

He could have had a goal and looked every bit as classy as he had before his injury.

Now the job is to hang on to him.