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More Food For Thought – Bruce Hints At Tactics Change To ‘Get Best Out Of’ Striker

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.

39 comments so far

  • stan anderson

    Dec 21, 2019 at 12:10 AM

    Comment #1

    Bruce cabbage head doesnt do tactics does he?

  • Nicky the ball tosser

    Dec 21, 2019 at 12:30 AM

    Comment #2

    Gayle is on 35000 quid a week, so if you can’t shift him, you’d ideally want to play him, but the simple truth is he’s never shown himself a capable starter at this level. I’d consider him as cover in the St Max or Almirón positions, he played there for Palace, but changing the system for him, frankly he just isn’t good enough to warrant it.

  • NY Mag

    Dec 21, 2019 at 12:37 AM

    Comment #3


    Again, agreed….he’s not a starter – he’s about 3rd choice in the pecking order. I would prefer an upgrade, but I’m OK with him still being here as back-up.

  • ilovetoon8788

    Dec 21, 2019 at 12:53 AM

    Comment #4

    Will he a absolute shi* match today with us having the usual 30% possession.

    Atmosphere is like a morgue. Wonder how the 50k turn up to watch opponent dominate at home.

    Newcastle 0 Palace 2

  • boss hoggs atm

    Dec 21, 2019 at 1:04 AM

    Comment #5

    Their is no pleasure now in spending your hard earned cash, watching the opposition play all the football week in week out, this long ball counter attack hoping for the best football is dire.

  • lesh

    Dec 21, 2019 at 3:12 AM

    Comment #6

    A change in tactics?

    A Palace win?

  • The next Mike Williamson

    Dec 21, 2019 at 3:47 AM

    Comment #7

    its got draw all over it.
    we should do a brucie bingo and try to guess the possession and shots.
    ill say 52% and two shots on target, 6 shots overall. 1-1.
    anything less than that is appalling.

  • The next Mike Williamson

    Dec 21, 2019 at 3:53 AM

    Comment #8

    where has gayle been the last three months?

    the gym or mcdonalds?

  • Jib

    Dec 21, 2019 at 7:44 AM

    Comment #9

    Such a shame
    Match day morning used to be brill on this blog
    Folk coming on talking selection , formation , snippets of news
    Now it’s just a none stop repetitive litany of complaining about
    the owner and his appointments
    largely pandered to by Neil and the wife
    So sad

  • toonbrother

    Dec 21, 2019 at 7:48 AM

    Comment #10

    Yup ! Match day morning used to be brill
    until Jib came along and ruined it with his whining about other phantom posters complaining about the “owner and appointments”

  • Jib

    Dec 21, 2019 at 7:54 AM

    Comment #11

    point proven perfectly
    ty toonbotherer

  • toonbrother

    Dec 21, 2019 at 7:57 AM

    Comment #12

    this shows Bruce is utterly clueless when it comes to formations
    the current formation is better suited to Gayle than it is to Carroll
    So if he can find a place for Carroll he can easily make room for gayle

    Gayle is far more mobile than Carroll.
    His off the ball movements make him an asset when pressing opposing defences
    It is also an advantage when creating opportunities for himself and others to score

    In the few minutes he played v Burnley, his movement led to a great opportunity to score from a Joelinton pass
    (albeit one he woefully missed)
    Carroll on the other hand, was on the pitch for 90 minutes and didn’t find himself in a single goal scoring opportunity throughout the game
    For me Carroll is better suited to a old school classic 4-4-2 where he can play the static big man upfront role

    A more dynamic strategy calls for a more dynamic striker like Gayle

  • Lindisfarne

    Dec 21, 2019 at 8:10 AM

    Comment #13


    All very simple but a lot of work.
    “You do not climb a mountain in a suit”

  • Big Bruce Stars.

    Dec 21, 2019 at 8:43 AM

    Comment #14

    Wake up jib it’s morning and the coffee is on! It’s discussion whichever way it leans sunshine – you are blaming “negative” posters when you know very well the cause of the negativity is your fab owner and his bird dog Bruce.

    We all know what’s wrong – return to questionable transfer policy, bumbling coach who keeps us in the league by a hair’s breadth with grateful cupped hands waiting for his pay, return of the long injury list (wonder why that is?) and reliance on players we should have railed out years ago…..


    Talk of defeat today and predictions of loss are NOT ON PEOPLE! 😀 we haven’t seen the team sheet or the latest master plan until we see his Big Bruce Stars on the pitch! We still have a pretty formidable defence – pretty it ain’t but if we can get some pace on the wings and our full backs are on their game we might see a sneaky win! I’ve a feeling he will attempt to push Gayle forward and try to play a bit further up the pitch today, has to try something or we will get done if we sit back.

  • carltoon

    Dec 21, 2019 at 8:45 AM

    Comment #15

    No metro, no replacement bus services. Don’t think I’ll make the match today. I’ve hardly seen a live game this season. It’s not getting there it’s getting home after. hope the lads play well and get a win. I see Bruce is on football focus today.

  • cyprus

    Dec 21, 2019 at 8:55 AM

    Comment #16

    Haven’t been this comfortable at this time of the year, points-wise, for many years. Long may it continue.

    Hope we get something out of this game. In truth, nobody really knows, we’ve been such a team for a long time.

    Andy to give us a Christmas gift!

  • davo

    Dec 21, 2019 at 9:04 AM

    Comment #18

    That’ll set the cat amongst the pigeons.

  • cyprus

    Dec 21, 2019 at 9:09 AM

    Comment #19

    That’s an opinion, respected, but it is just that. Anyway, Carroll had two decent chances. I like Carroll.
    Your covering your bases, results-wise. Will you take a “sneaky win” as a strategic master class against a more gifted team, or as a fluke?

    Really, unfortunately we are just trying this season to establish our PL status. We’ve been strugglers and a yo-yo club for years. I don’t discuss the recent past anymore, but: The rafalution never came to fruition, in truth. He may not have any blame at all, who knows for sure. But the cold hard fact is self evident. We remained strugglers and the super low possession was established in his reign.

    We must move on with what we have now and support this team. No choice, this is OUR team.

  • Tyran21

    Dec 21, 2019 at 9:18 AM

    Comment #20

    I feel that whichever the tactic is, the possession needs to improve for our attackers to shine. Services need to be constant, to wake the instinct of the striker. No amount of training can provide that, you just need to get that scoring momentum going. Its there for all to see, the way the team plays is making the attackers sleepy most of the time.

  • Rotonda heights

    Dec 21, 2019 at 9:55 AM

    Comment #21

    Someone was talking to me about this chap he knows who thinks he knows everything and never shuts up. Reminded me of someone, can’t think who.

    Stan Anderson

    You’re right, forget a plan B from bruce, no one’s figured what plan A is..


    If you would like to take a break from match days or any other days on here please don’t be shy. We wouldn’t hold it against you honest, we’d manage somehow. Way to go insulting the website hosts by the way.

  • Munster Mag

    Dec 21, 2019 at 10:02 AM

    Comment #22

    ” I’m aware of certain blogs but my dog knows more about football than tarquin so I don’t bother” said Mr Bruce.

  • Munster Mag

    Dec 21, 2019 at 10:04 AM

    Comment #23

    “tarquin does come out with more sh*t than my dog though, to be fair”, Mr Bruce added.

  • Munster Mag

    Dec 21, 2019 at 10:50 AM

    Comment #24

    Cyprus always good to hear your rational opinions. Without ASM we are going to struggle in general so it’s probably another turgid affair today. If Miggy and shelvey are out it could be seriously ugly. As ever, hope for best without any great expectations. Palace are probably the type of team Bruce is looking for nufc to be, full of power pace and effort and they have a star like ours – unfortunately Zaha is a lot better than St max, and will be on the pitch 🙁

  • Ron Knee

    Dec 21, 2019 at 11:17 AM

    Comment #25

    Did you know?

    “The Stones’ Let It Bleed album cake was made by Delia Smith, then a relatively unknown cookery writer.”

  • fairscup

    Dec 21, 2019 at 11:24 AM

    Comment #26

    No I did not Ron, that is very interesting “Gimme Shlter” best Stones track ever

  • fairscup

    Dec 21, 2019 at 11:31 AM

    Comment #27

    Mike Ashley should buy struggling Berwick Rangers, loan them some players, soon be in the Sottish Premiership and making money for him. No brainer.

  • Ron Knee

    Dec 21, 2019 at 11:38 AM

    Comment #28

    Yes, fairscup, and one of the Stones’ top three albums.

  • Rotonda heights

    Dec 21, 2019 at 11:40 AM

    Comment #29


    Why do you keep calling him Tarquin? Should we start calling you names too? Seriously don’t give up your day job trying to tell jokes, Graham Norton you aint. For me BBS tells it like it is. Very hard to argue against the facts unless one is delusional. Apart from against WHU we have basically been outplayed every game and got away with it sometimes. For all yours and catchy’s endless slagging off of Rafa, the fare on display now, ASM apart, is truly diabolical. Under Bruce during every match we are :-

    Have players out of position so don’t get the best out of them
    Have no plan B
    Lots of injuries
    No pass + Move
    Endless long balls and hopeful diagonals
    Hardly any possession
    Hardly any shots on goal
    Endless excuses a la Pardew.
    It may as well be Pardew.

    No wonder 10,000 stayed away. That didn’t happen under Rafa. Do the coaches do any passing drills whatsoever in training as we always look so uncomfortable on the ball. We are the polar opposite of a city, Liverpool, Barcelona etc, ie we are a modern day Wimbledon playing Pulis style ANTI football and put to shame by the likes of Sheffield Utd who have kept to their principles of playing football.

    That said, we should beat Palace reserves

  • Jib

    Dec 21, 2019 at 11:40 AM

    Comment #30

    Just a shot away

  • Mindshaft

    Dec 21, 2019 at 11:47 AM

    Comment #31

    Would start Gayle instead of Carroll simply for the fact we’ll have more movement and won’t play hump it up to the big man football – it’s going to be an ugly game but we are playing a 2nd string palace team , just need to stop Saha playing without giving away stupid free kicks away in stupid positions- somebody mentioned zaha has ‘won’ the most free kicks in the prem
    I expect a win with only ASM out and a draw if shelvey and miggy don’t play.
    We should not be losing at home to almost a reserve palace team

  • Ron Knee

    Dec 21, 2019 at 11:51 AM

    Comment #32

    Ancelotti and Arteta “watching from the stands”. Is that a first?

  • toon22

    Dec 21, 2019 at 11:53 AM

    Comment #33


    Its never Jabbas fault

  • toon22

    Dec 21, 2019 at 11:54 AM

    Comment #34

    Rotonda heights

    Careful not to knock the free flowing attacking football Munster seemed to think we would see

  • Hail Wor Ashley

    Dec 21, 2019 at 11:58 AM

    Comment #35

    4-4-2 today.


    Two STs, lots of natural width and pace on the wings to supply them.

    MAnquillo/Yedlin combo will keep Zaha quiet.

  • Lilongwe Geordie

    Dec 21, 2019 at 12:06 PM

    Comment #36

    We were the polar opposite last season as well though. Very similar average possesion stats. 43.54 – 39. The football has been pretty poor for years, it isn’t something that has all of a sudden happened under Bruce.

    There is so much negativity aimed at Bruce and the style of football, but the reality is that it is pretty similar. We had several games in the first half of last season where we didn’t get a shot on target, just like last week.

    None of it is/was good enough. But everyone hammering Bruce (as though this is a new problem) for the lack of possession and the lack of passing must have missed the last 10 years.

    The Bruce bashing just gives the actual problem an easier ride.

  • Munster Mag

    Dec 21, 2019 at 1:31 PM

    Comment #37

    Rotunda you’re as one eyed as your obsessive friend Tarquin. The football is broadly similar to what benitez, the man you ( I think) bizarrely rated beside Keegan, served up. Ie cautious defensive stuff. Benitez dropped the best passer because he was happy to have lejeune and Co doing it. And he had far more accomplished strikers than Bruce has. The problem lies above both men. Go boil your head with your mate Tarquin and his shameful Sunderland avatar.

  • Munster Mag

    Dec 21, 2019 at 1:33 PM

    Comment #38

    Háil 442 makes sense with Miggy on the left.

  • gutty72

    Dec 23, 2019 at 8:26 AM

    Comment #39

    You lot who comment and complain and bitch and argue have ruined this blog . Its like the brexit debate about football on here now


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