After a terrific performance at West Ham on Saturday, Steve Bruce made 10 changes to his team for the Carabao Cup win over Blackburn last night. The gulf in the display was considerable.
Newcastle escaped with a slim 1-0 victory mainly due to the visitors’ inability to create any moment of quality. Blackburn controlled the game, enjoyed the bulk of possession, and had the better chances.
However, it was Newcastle through a terrific pass from Miguel Almiron and a good finish from Ryan Fraser that gets Newcastle through to the next round.
The match reluctantly brought many fans back to some of the performances from last season. Where Newcastle were lacking ideas, conceded possession often, and just looked completely disjointed.
A couple of the individual performances were the same. Both Joelinton and Sean Longstaff were not up to snuff last night. A case could be made that both were not in their best positions.
Joelinton was again played as a striker and showed no improvement from last season. Longstaff was deployed in a midfield two with another young player in Dan Barlaser. Sean struggled to make an impact in the game.
The 22-year-old had similar issues last season when playing deeper in the midfield. However, in the few occasions he played as a number 10 he looked a more confident and effective player.
The Chronicle has published some comments from Steve Bruce about Sean’s performance and the head coach seems to agree that Longstaff may be better higher up the pitch.
“Sean is in the last two years of his contract – we all know what capabilities he’s got he’s got to show it more often and more regularly.
“I’m sure tonight he’ll be a bit disappointed with how he’s played, but we’ve got to make sure that we try to get him to maybe where he was.
“He’s got a lot of work to do, but he’s got healthy competition around him and as I said, he was another one who needed a game tonight and I think that showed.
“It’s an important season for all of them who want to try to get into the team.
“It was a perfect way today to throw down the gauntlet to get into the team or Sunday in the Premier League.
“Certainly his best games for me last season were when he played off the front, number 10, at Bournemouth away and West Brom in the cup certainly in a more forward position.
“I played him in the center of the midfield (vs Blackburn) in a two.
“Look, certainly he’s a midfield player, but probably his best position may be in the number 10 role.”