Steve Bruce spent a good amount of time during his press conference this morning talking about Dwight Gayle. When asked if the 29-year-old was still an important member of the squad, Bruce reiterated that he rated Gayle highly and hoped he would get his chance.
However, he also admitted that the poacher was not suited to the current 5-4-1 system. The formation Bruce has been utilizing since the win at Tottenham requires a forward who can hold the ball up and play as a variant of a target man. That certainly would not suit the diminutive Dwight Gayle.
While Bruce has always stressed that he rates Dwight Gayle, getting him into the team has proven to be a chore. It’s something he hasn’t quite worked out just yet.
When Bruce first joined in mid-July, he immediately implemented a system using two strikers. Since Dwight had just suffered his calf injury and Andy Carroll was nowhere near ready to get on the pitch, that meant Miguel Almiron played behind Joelinton, who was just signed as our new number 9 in a 5-3-2.
However, that formation just wasn’t clicking and it was scrapped for the 5-4-1/3-4-3 currently in use. There’s just no place for Gayle in this system.
While he is usually a clinical finisher, he really offers little else to the team. So for Gayle to be successful, he requires a striker partner or an advanced midfielder like in the 4-2-3-1 we played in the Championship.
Bruce has admitted as much in comments published in the Chronicle. The head coach said the following when asked about getting the best out of Dwight:
“The way we’ve been playing, we would need a change of formation to get the best out of him.
“I’m toying with that, because obviously with the loss of Allan Saint-Maximin we’ve not been as effective as I’d like us to be at the top end of the pitch – so it is food for thought.”
‘Food for thought’ has replaced ‘not everybody’s cup of tea’ in terms of Bruce-isms. Steve often spoke of using Joeltinon on the left at ‘food for thought.’ That came to fruition last weekend, albeit with meager results.
However, he’s not wrong in his assertion that to get the best out of Dwight Gayle, he’ll need to change the formation. If we have another struggle in the final third on Saturday, he may just find a way to get Dwight in the starting eleven.