These small details will decide Newcastle United's fate under Steve Bruce
“My job is to get the supporters back onside and enjoying watching their team,” said Bruce after yesterday’s 1-0 defeat to Arsenal, which was boycotted by several thousand fans.
To do that, Bruce knows his team must to be more convincing on the pitch.
For 45 minutes, Bruce’s side more than matched Arsenal. They competed and created chances. After the break, it was a different story. Newcastle were anything but convincing following the loss of Jonjo Shelvey to injury, and they lost 1-0.
The post-match headlines were dominated by a mix-up with substitute Jetro Willems – who took up the wrong position after replacing Shelvey – and Bruce’s decision not to name a midfielder on the bench due to fitness worries over two of his defenders. Then there was a mistake from Willems, who was caught out for the goal.
And that’s the thing. Bruce has lost Premier League experience this summer, and the likes of Willems, Joelinton and Allan Saint-Maximin, all new to English football, will have to learn on the job.
That makes Bruce’s job tougher, as underlined against Arsenal. Bruce also didn’t need his son Alex to tackle a journalist on Twitter who had questioned a “clumsy” substitution.
The players, at least, are onside, and, ultimately, it was just one mistake which cost United against Arsenal.
Rafa Benitez, Bruce’s predecessor, was obsessed by the small details. And it will be those details, over the season, which will decide the club’s fate.