Steve Bruce has come to a startling conclusion about his Newcastle United side

Steve Bruce has shelved his plans for a tactical change at Newcastle United – and reverted back to Rafa Benitez’s defensive blueprint.

Friday, 4th October 2019, 10:30 pm
Steve Bruce.

Bruce’s tactics again came under scrutiny following last weekend’s shambolic 5-0 defeat to Leicester City.

The loss, the club’s heaviest in four years, left the club 19th in the Premier League ahead of Sunday’s home game against Manchester United.

Bruce had hoped to implement a more attacking style of play after succeeding Benitez at St James’s Park.

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However, the defeat at the King Power Stadium, where Bruce went with a 4-4-2 formation, underlined to Bruce that he doesn’t have the players, and especially the legs in midfield, to play a more expansive game.

And Newcastle’s head coach will field a back five against Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s side.

“Looking at the way the team is happiest, you’d say we’ll play with five at the back, with two No10s, and we’ll sit deep and play on the counter-attack, which is exactly what we did when we played against Tottenham (when Newcastle won 1-0),” said Bruce.

“We changed for that game, because that’s the way they had played at the back end of last season when results were better. The two or three times I’ve tried to change us, it didn’t really work.

“I quickly worked out at Norwich that we didn’t have the players with the capability to play the way I’d envisaged. I learned from that day, and it’s happened again.

“We get the statistics from every game, and they tell the story. Compared to everyone else, and especially in midfield and defensive, we register in a certain way.”

Bruce will, for the moment, play a defensive, counter-attacking game – just as Benitez did during his three years at the club.

On the demands of the Premier League, Bruce said: “You’ve got to be big and physical – and have the ability to run.

“Unfortunately, that’s one thing here now, from the back to my midfield, we haven’t got. And, ultimately, until we’ve got that, we’re going to have to play in a certain way and the identity will be to sit deep and play on the counter-attack. That’s the only way we can play.”