How low can Newcastle go? Toon fans are united in wanting Bruce sacked, Shearer demands more ambition and damning stats show they are in FREEFALL after utterly dismal Sheffield United defeat
- Newcastle became the first team to lose to Sheffield United so far this season
- The 1-0 loss has heaped even more pressure on beleaguered boss Steve Bruce
- The fanbase is furious and seemingly United in wanting him to be sacked
- Newcastle are 15th and play Arsenal, Leeds and Everton in their next three
Newcastle’s season has hit a new low after being defeated by basement boys Sheffield United, who recorded their first win of the Premier League season by beating the Magpies.
The pressure is dramatically intensifying upon manager Steve Bruce, whose side find themselves 15th in the Premier League, eight points above the drop zone.
It’s a position which, in itself, might not look quite so frighteningly alarming to anyone from the outside looking in. But it’s the meek and mild manner of Newcastle’s downturn in form which is of deep concern to supporters and suggests the malaise may well run a lot deeper with the Premier League season not even at the halfway stage.
The pressure is ramping up on Steve Bruce after Newcastle lost to Sheffield United
Newcastle are the first team to be defeated by Sheffield United so far this season
Newcastle Chronicle’s front page carried a furious message to the club on Wednesday
The anger from Newcastle’s passionate fanbase is turning venomous – fans have been calling for Bruce’s departure for months but after Tuesday’s defeat, they seem to have reached a crescendo.
The local paper, the Newcastle Chronicle, published a furious back page on Wednesday, describing the display against Sheffield United as: ‘Shambolic, pathetic… simply an insult to the club crest.’
Supporters believe Bruce’s tactics are too negative and that the players are no longer playing for him. How much longer can chairman Mike Ashley keep ignoring the cries of derision?
Tuesday’s 1-0 defeat by Chris Wilder’s men means it is now 11-and-a-half hours with just one goal from open play, a stat that summarises how uninspired and out of ideas Newcastle have been when they attack.
But surveying a number of stats from the course of the season so far paints an extremely bleak image of the standard of Newcastle’s performances across the pitch.
The anger among Newcastle is reaching boiling point after their latest defeat in the league
The stats around Newcastle paint a bleak picture about the team’s prospects this season
Starting with the blunted attack, they are 15th for the most number of goals scored in the league this season, with a tally of 18.
They’ve taken 150 shots, the third lowest amount. 53 of those have been on target, the fourth lowest amount. Their expected goals ratio stands at 16.7, again the third lowest.
A factor for Newcastle’s profligate frontline could be the struggle for Toon players to pass to each other. Their pass accuracy of 75.1 per cent is the third lowest in the Premier League.
At some sides, they compromise with a struggling attack by reinforcing their defence but Bruce’s backline doesn’t appear to be stern or steady enough to justify the woeful play in the final third.
Newcastle have conceded 27 goals, which ranks them 14th out of the 20 sides in the table. They have only kept three clean sheets all season, however, which is the fifth lowest.
Furthermore, Newcastle have pulled off 229 tackles all season – joint 13th with Fulham – and have managed to complete 179 interceptions which puts them join 11th alongside Brighton.
The stats suggest, aside from the fact that Newcastle aren’t very good, that it’s hard to work out exactly how Newcastle want to play. Are they a defensive side looking to snatch a goal on the break? Are they trying to outscore teams when their best attacking players, such as Callum Wilson, Allan Saint-Maximin, Ryan Fraser and Miguel Almiron are all available?
Newcastle appear to be toiling all over the pitch, struggling to defend or attack with belief
Newcastle’s recent displays have led to fans saying the players aren’t behind Bruce anymore
Those four are good players, exciting attackers who fans want to see challenged and pushed by a manager.
The perception of a lack of ambition is what infuriates Newcastle fans and saw Bruce receive fierce criticism when Newcastle were dumped out of the League Cup at the quarter-final stage by Championship side Brentford.
‘It’s not enjoyable or fun to watch, it’s negative, boring and it drains you,’ former Newcastle defender Warren Barton told talkSPORT on Wednesday. ‘I think of Newcastle as ambitious but Steve’s trying to not get beat. Bruce is supposed to be a Geordie, but there’s no passion.’
Newcastle legend Alan Shearer has felt the criticism of late was justified and urged Bruce to recapture the spirit in the team that was on display when they held champions Liverpool to a draw at St James’s Park in December.
Alan Shearer (right) says Newcastle have been fairly criticised across the course of the season
It remains to be seen if Mike Ashley or Lee Charnley will act on the downturn under Bruce
‘They have got more [ambition] than that and that is why it has been so frustrating at times, but the criticism has been justified,’ Shearer said of Newcastle’s main aim of preserving their Premier League status.
‘When you draw with Fulham, when you go out of the cup in the way they did then that is not acceptable and not good enough. You have got to take that on the chin when people complain. Tonight (against Liverpool) is more like it and it is something to build on, they got the ball forward quicker, they were a threat and that has got to continue.
‘I think what will have pleased Newcastle today, and pleased the Newcastle fans, is that they expect Liverpool to have most of the ball,’ Shearer added. ‘But what they [the fans] want, need and crave is that when Newcastle do have the ball, they are actually a threat, and that was the difference this evening.
‘When they had it they created one or two chances, yes they defended deep, yes they defended in numbers but they were a threat, it wasn’t just defending all of the time.
‘At times they actually went and pressed Liverpool, they weren’t just sitting and waiting for Liverpool to attack them, particularly in the first half, so if that can continue then the fans will be a lot happier.’
The attackers at Bruce’s disposal are not going to light up the sky in the way teams in the upper echelons of the Premier League do, but fans find it so hard to reconcile the lack of attacking poise with players like Wilson leading the line.
Curtis Woodhouse, an ex-professional, said Callum Wilson is being waster at Newcastle
Newcastle’s lack of attacking intent in games has been scrutnised by many this season
Overall, the Newcastle fanbase appears to be united in wanting Bruce to leave the club
It was picked up upon by Curtis Woodhouse, who tweeted after the Sheffield United defeat that the forward was wasted at the club.
‘Callum Wilson is so much better than Newcastle United,’ Woodhouse wrote. ‘I feel sorry for the lad, he’s strong, quick, good movement, good finisher and he’s playing lone striker in a 541 for a team with zero flair or attacking intent. What a waste.’
It’s hard to imagine many Newcastle fans disagree, if any at all, as the calls grow louder for Bruce to go.
‘For the sake of the fan base, the clubs (sic) long history and standing in world football PLEASE! tear up Steve Bruce’s contract he is not the man to take us forward as a club its clear to most of us that he is not even a adequate fit for the club. Please start to see sense,’ wrote one fan on Twitter on Wednesday.
Another said: ‘A message for Steve Bruce: your average tenure at a club is just under 2 seasons. You are approaching that time now. You have lost the fans, the players aren’t playing for you and your tactics are uninspiring, negative and fruitless. Your luck has run out. Resign.’
How much more damage can Bruce take? Newcastle’s next three games are against Arsenal, Leeds and Everton, so it’s not getting any easier. Bruce insisted after the Sheffield United defeat that he will not walk away so with those games on the horizon, he will have to prepare for things to get worse before they get better.
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