This is a 'risk' Steve Bruce believes it's worth taking at Newcastle United

Steve Bruce is ready to take a “risk” at Newcastle United in pursuit of Premier League safety.

Saturday, 29th February 2020, 6:00 am

Bruce, however, believes it would be a bigger risk to do nothing – and persevere with Rafa Benitez’s tactics.

The team, the joint-lowest scorers in the Premier League, hasn’t scored in three games, and fans on Tyneside are concerned that the club is going to get sucked into a relegation battle.

Bruce, reluctantly, adopted Benitez’s defensive, counter-attacking tactics after what he described as an “embarrassing” 5-0 defeat to Leicester City in September, having previously tried to play two up front.

“When I walked through the door, they were used to playing a certain way, and I didn’t want to change that,” said United’s head coach. “They’d had a degree of success in the second half of the season, if that’s what you want to call it.

“But, I’ve said from day one, it’s not the way I want to play. Now, I believe, we have to score. Our counter-attack threat has waned in the past few weeks, and we haven’t caused teams enough problems.”

Bruce and his players have worked on using a back four in training this week. He is also considering playing two up front.

“It’s something we’ve obviously worked on, to make sure the players understand what their roles are if we do change,” said Bruce. “The difficulty has always been scoring a goal, even last year in the first half of the season. To create is the hardest thing in the Premier League.”

Steve Bruce.

Benitez often spoke about having a “short blanket” at the club, as it was hard for him to get the balance right between defence and attack given the players he had at his disposal.

“Yes, but I believe we have to win, and need to score to do so,” said Bruce. “We all know the quote about the blanket, I understand that. But sometimes you have to take a risk.”Asked if he would play two up front, Bruce added: “Yeah, although I’m not giving too much away!”

Midfielder Jonjo Shelvey, back from a hamstring injury, is fit enough to start, according to Bruce.