'Things are developing behind the scenes' – Newcastle United takeover moves assessed after Jamie Reuben bombshell

Another week, yet more issues on the Newcastle United agenda.

Saturday, 24th October 2020, 9:00 am

From tactics to systems to transfers and takeovers, the Newcastle United beat is never short of a talking point or two – and this week our writers Liam Kennedy and Jordan Cronin assess this week’s conundrums in our regular Toon Trending Topic feature.

Takeover talk has returned to Tyneside this week, what do you make of it?

LK: "Interesting. And what I will say is that things are happening. I wish I could say more but things are developing behind the scenes. I know that's not what fans will want to hear, but believe me when I say it – the seller is working VERY hard to keep this deal on the table. He wants this as much as we do, if not more. This deal with the Saudis is about a whole lot more than the sale of Newcastle United to Mike Ashley. And for that reason he will fight tooth and nail to keep it alive. And it is alive. But will not stay such forever. Time is very much of the essence, especially when it comes to the various forms of legal action in play at present.”

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Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea makes a superb save from a shot from Callum Wilson (r) during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Manchester United at St. James Park on October 17, 2020 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

What do you make of the Jamie Reuben resignation?

LK: “In my eyes this IS significant. Reuben dropping off the QPR board was one of the key indicators things were moving forward back in the summer. It was one hurdle that had to be navigated – and takeover or not, there’s now nothing standing in the way of Reuben joining any new NUFC board swiftly. As for the explanation that his resignation was a move of ‘respect’ to QPR fans re his Newcastle United takeover involvement etc… That one doesn’t quite wash with me, I’m afraid. Surely, were that solely the case, he’d have resigned in March, when this all kicked off properly, or even May when this looked like going through? Many around Reuben say this was a surprise, according to reports, but this appears calculated, particularly when assessing what is happening elsewhere behind the scenes.”

And on a scale of one to 10, how confident are you the legal action could enact an eventual change in ownership?

LK: “My confidence has been up and down all year on this one – the one thing I’ve known without fail is that we are in the Ashley endgame. If I was a 2/10 a few weeks back, I’m maybe a 5/10 now. There are a lot of variables in this process, and if any one of them falters the deal will die.”

JC: “I find it very encouraging Ashley has continued to fight for it – for once he wants the same thing as Newcastle fans – and things are moving but after all the disappointment through the summer, I refuse to get even the slightest bit hopeful. Let’s just see how it plays out.”

Is Steve Bruce getting his tactics right at Newcastle United?

LK: “It’s hard to really know what Bruce’s tactics are to be honest, bar get the ball to Allan Saint-Maximin. They look wide open defensively, with little bite or organisation in midfield – as well as poorly balanced from left to right – and are leaving Callum Wilson to mainly feed off scraps. Are they playing 4-4-2 as Bruce says, or is it a little more complex than that? I’m honestly at a loss. But what you can’t argue with is the systems have been getting results – albeit with stark ups and downs in performance. This season is so difficult to assess as it feels built on sand.”

JC: “No. Contrary to Bruce’s belief, I, like a number of fans, don’t know what he is trying to implement tactically. The stats don’t lie. They look shaky defensively and definitely don’t look like scoring many goals, which is very poor because they’ve got the personnel now in my opinion. Newcastle United simply do not have an identify or a way of playing under Bruce. That needs to change.”

Is Miguel Almiron due a recall? And is it time we saw more of Ryan Fraser, too?

LK: “Yes. Fraser and Almiron have to play this weekend for me – and it would not be a difficult decision who should come out the XI. Jeff Hendrick looks ill-suited out wide, and did little more to impress in the middle, so he’d be one. And the other for me would be Joelinton, especially if Bruce has any inkling to play him wide on the right. Almiron, at his best, can make United tick. He is yet to hit those heights this season, mind.”

JC: “Yes on both accounts. I’d like to see Allan Saint-Maximin and Fraser on the flanks with Almiron behind Wilson. Like Joelinton, I think it’s time Jonjo Shelvey was taken out the firing line as well – neither deliver on a consistent basis sadly.”

What kind of result are you expecting this weekend?

LK: “Wolves at their best and United at their best, the home side will win. They have better forwards, better midfielders and a much better defensive unit, simple. But in this Premier League results have been near to impossible to call, so I’m sitting on the fence and going for another 1-1, just like January.”

JC: “I don’t think Bruce has taken much – if any – criticism on board, so I expect more of the same tactically, which Wolves are more than capable of exploiting. I’m going for a home win, although I do find Wolves fairly inconsistent...”

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