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Bruce Talks About Squad Freshness, League Position, And Selection Dilemma Ahead Of Sheffield United

Steve Bruce has given his press conference for Tuesday’s critical match at Sheffield United. After making seven changes in our FA Cup defeat on Saturday, Bruce is hoping to field a refreshed team tomorrow.

Here is what Bruce had to say per Newcastle’s Twitter account:

“We’ll have a few players back. It was good to see Jamaal Lascelles get 45 minutes against Arsenal. We’ve got Fabian Schär, Karl Darlow, and Fede Fernandez who we left at home [on Saturday] so we should have a certain freshness.”

Both Callum Wilson and Jonjo Shelvey were sent home this weekend after traveling to London for our FA Cup tie. The reason cited was that it was only precautionary so we hope they will be available tomorrow.

There is also Ryan Fraser, who returned to group training after a groin injury. Tomorrow may be too soon for the winger but hopefully he will be back soon.

The match against the Blades is looming very large for Newcastle. After going winless in the last 7 in all competitions, we need points to avoid dropping further down the table. Sheffield seem like a prime opportunity to do that as they’ve yet to win in the league this season and are currently on just two points.

Bruce spoke about Newcastle’s league position and doesn’t seem alarmed just yet despite being in 15th place. Here is what he said as published in The Mail:

“At the moment we have a nice healthy cushion to the bottom three. If we’d gone in the bottom three then I’d say maybe (we were in a relegation fight). We knew this would be a tough run of fixtures. We’re in that run where we have to get out of it.

“But Sheffield United’s position proves how difficult the Premier League is. They took it by storm last year and were in the top six at Christmas. So although they prop up the table, they are a very good side still. We’ll have to be at our best to beat them.”

Bruce also was asked about the goalkeeping situation with both Karl Darlow and Martin Dubravka battling it out to be number one. Dubravka made his season debut in the defeat at Arsenal and played very well.

However, Bruce had said that Darlow would remain the number one after his performances this campaign. Dubravka’s display on Saturday has given Bruce a decision to make for Tuesday.

Here is what Bruce said about his goalkeeper selection dilemma for tomorrow:

“We have two quality goalkeepers. Martin reminded us at Arsenal of what a good goalkeeper he is. Karl has been very good all season. So I’ve got one of those awful ones (decisions) to make – let’s hope I pick the right one.”

It would be very cruel to drop Darlow after how he’s played so far this season. So we’ll see what Bruce decides to do tomorrow night.

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62 comments so far

  • toonluvva

    Jan 11, 2021 at 2:31 PM

    Comment #2

    This is an interesting match to forecast.

    If Bruceless wins, he will assume that everything is alright with his anti-football and nothing will change. The same will be true for a draw.

    A loss will will just leave him trotting out the same lame excuses that he puts out loss after loss.

    Watching him flounder about out of depth is like seeing a drowning man clinging desperately to an anchor.

    The question is how much longer can Ashley, Barnes and Bishop entertain such a loser in charge.

  • Tackle from behind

    Jan 11, 2021 at 2:32 PM

    Comment #3

    A bit like Cleverlysbob’s earlier pre-apology.

  • Zorro

    Jan 11, 2021 at 2:33 PM

    Comment #4

    Win against the blades the cabbage will still be in charge
    Draw and fat ash should be having the conversation
    Lose he should be sacked immediately

  • Mister Tuff

    Jan 11, 2021 at 2:42 PM

    Comment #5

    Brucie whats all this about – ““At the moment we have a nice healthy cushion to the bottom three.”

    8 points can be easily closed down so not really a healthy cushion.

    Brucie …………………………………..OOT

  • Moonraker15

    Jan 11, 2021 at 2:44 PM

    Comment #6

    Bruce won’t be sacked whatever the result tonight; he’s the night watchman until the takeover happens then the new chairman will give him a nice little bung and send him packing!

  • Just a Fat Dave Bassett

    Jan 11, 2021 at 2:50 PM

    Comment #7

    If we lose against Sheff Utd, Bruce is way out his depth, despised by all fans (except Jane) and should be sacked immediately.

    If we win against Sheff Utd, Bruce is way out his depth, despised by all fans (except Jane) and should be sacked immediately.

  • Lee Charnley Bunga Party

    Jan 11, 2021 at 2:54 PM

    Comment #8

    Its depressing that we are going into this game worried we might get turned over

    We should be all over them from kick off and get the early goal to knock the stuffing out of them

    We were in Arsenal’s faces in the 2nd half of that game we need to continue like that in every game from kick off and actually create some clear cut chances for Wilson as he is feeding off scraps for most matches

  • cleveleysbob

    Jan 11, 2021 at 2:54 PM

    Comment #9

    Hey, Tackle, my pre apology was much more refined and on point than Bruce’s old cliched excuses, although I see what you mean 😉

  • Assassins Inc

    Jan 11, 2021 at 3:03 PM

    Comment #10

    I mean, come on we should win this game, but this is the type of B/S where Sheffield get there first win.
    They don’t score goals, they have no real threat, but S/B can always find a way to fcuk this up.
    Shite, I just realized that S/B ( Steve Bruce is B/S backwards.

  • Great White Hunter

    Jan 11, 2021 at 3:10 PM

    Comment #11

    Adam, from previous, I think Harry Winks would be a great loan signing, great attitude , got a great Engine, I,m sure Jose would lend him to us………..

  • The Rev.Jim

    Jan 11, 2021 at 3:10 PM

    Comment #12

    You know ” I wonder about things, like, if they call an orange an “orange,” then why don’t we call a banana a “yellow” or an apple a “red”? Blueberries, I understand; but will someone explain gooseberries to me? ” The Rev.Jim Ignatowski ( Christopher Lloyd )

    and is Joe really from Linton ? B^D testing testing :?P ?

  • Jail for Ashley

    Jan 11, 2021 at 3:11 PM

    Comment #13

    He can go another four games without a win and still be better off than Mclaren was at around this stage, we’ve got no chance of seeing him sacked.

  • The Rev.Jim

    Jan 11, 2021 at 3:13 PM

    Comment #14

    Can’t get them emoji thingies to work.
    Bit like Joe 9
    I bet he’s popular for shirt changing.
    I mean if you got Matt Ritchie’s shirt it would be ringing wet.
    If you get Joe’s it be bone dry,and ready to wear 😉

  • Not another deJong

    Jan 11, 2021 at 3:16 PM

    Comment #15

    “”Maintaining a higher line comes with a need to see more of the ball than your opponents, making better use of it in the final third and exploiting that dominance in front of goal. Looking at the numbers, such an approach needs a complete flip of their behaviours, and a more coherent attacking strategy than cross your fingers and hope Callum Wilson scores.””


    Has Bruce pegged

  • cleveleysbob

    Jan 11, 2021 at 3:24 PM

    Comment #16

    Wow, de Jong, in it’s quietly, well written style, that’s one hell of an indictment of “Bruceball”, as you say, pegged!

  • The Rev.Jim

    Jan 11, 2021 at 3:24 PM

    Comment #17

    I wonder what the players think when the bruce talks tic tacs.
    How has Lewis gone backwards “the kid” ,like 99% of his passes.
    We cant take throw ins.
    Set pieces are awful.
    Corners abysmal.
    Longstaff “the kid” should be nowhere near taking free kicks or corners.
    Do the players just run around in training.
    answers on a postcard to the bruce

  • Jail for Ashley

    Jan 11, 2021 at 3:27 PM

    Comment #18

    The Rev.Jim,
    Read that article Nadj posted, it’s a canny read.

  • The Rev.Jim

    Jan 11, 2021 at 3:28 PM

    Comment #19

    I see chirpy chirpy has been on again tweet tweetin’


  • kimbo

    Jan 11, 2021 at 3:29 PM

    Comment #20

    But we all know Joelinton will be the 1st name on the team sheet.

  • toon22

    Jan 11, 2021 at 3:29 PM

    Comment #21

    These are the 14 years worth of FA Cup matches under Mike Ashley when Newcastle United have drawn Premier League opposition:

    2007/08 Arsenal (away) lost 0-3

    2008/09 Hull (away) drawn 0-0

    2008/09 Hull (home) lost 0-1

    2011/12 Blackburn (home) won 2-1

    2013/14 Cardiff (home) lost 1-2

    2014/15 Leicester (away) lost 0-1

    2015/16 Watford (away) lost 0-1

    2017/18 Chelsea (away) lost 0-3

    2018/19 Watford (home) lost 0-2

    2019/20 Manchester City (home) lost 0-2

    2020/21 Arsenal (away) lost 0-2


    Nowt will change till the turds gone

  • The Rev.Jim

    Jan 11, 2021 at 3:31 PM

    Comment #22

    @ Jail #18 I can’t marra as I get
    Publisher Logo
    We value your privacy and a load of shite in front of story sad face emoji

  • cleveleysbob

    Jan 11, 2021 at 3:32 PM

    Comment #23

    Jail, that’s a frightening stat.
    You know I remember a time when I used to think we could win every game, and was fairly confident.
    Now, I look at future fixtures and struggle to see where we’ll get points from unless Bruce maintains his “lucky streak” – sad to see how far we’ve dropped.

    All we want is a well managed club from top to bottom, a coach that believes in progressive football and a team that tries in every game.
    That would give us hope for the future, some ambition of better things to come and who knows even an odd trophy or 2 before we pop our clogs!

    Am I asleep again? 🙂

  • The Rev.Jim

    Jan 11, 2021 at 3:38 PM

    Comment #24

    cleveleysbob I can remember when we used to try.
    Play nice football.
    Never giving in,and proud to wear the shirt.

    Now what have we to look forward to under this regime.
    It’s ok to sack the bruce but going off cashliar’s track record who would we get.

  • Not another deJong

    Jan 11, 2021 at 3:38 PM

    Comment #25


    ‘Nailed his cap on’ as they say down here.

  • Jail for Ashley

    Jan 11, 2021 at 3:42 PM

    Comment #26

    The Rev Jim,
    “I think the supporters will see that hopefully they’ve enjoyed watching the team tonight even though they’ve been knocked out.”

    Of the gripes Newcastle United fans have with Steve Bruce, perhaps this was a perfect encapsulation of two in particular. The assertion that their criticisms of a team that sit 15th in the Premier League table, knocked out of the League Cup by Championship side Brentford and now out of the FA Cup at the first stage, has been about a lack of effort. And of a manager who chips away expectation with every misstep. The call for Newcastle fans to revel in their own schadenfreude is a new one, mind.

    Sunday’s 2-0 defeat to Arsenal in the third round could have been very different. Two chances in the final minutes of normal time fell to Elliot Anderson and then Andy Carroll, who had missed an earlier, clearer opportunity to put Newcastle ahead in the second half. This lack of cutting edge has been a problem all season.

    READ MORE: Arteta ‘thanks God’ for VAR after victory over Newcastle

    Though fans have moaned about the quality of teams put out, and a “sit back and hit them on the break” style which lacks the crucial “hit them on the break” bit, rarely have they belied the effort. All told, Newcastle have fared relatively well against higher-profile opposition through lasting the pace, albeit with dollops of good fortune along the way.

    Emile Smith Rowe scores an extra-time winner against Newcastle
    Emile Smith Rowe scores an extra-time winner against Newcastle

    (Getty Images)
    The 1-1 draw with Tottenham Hotspur in September was earned via a late VAR-assisted penalty. Holding Liverpool to a 0-0 draw at the end of 2020 was achieved primarily through Karl Darlow putting on one of the club’s best individual displays of the season. There was also a valiant effort while going down 2-0 against Manchester City on Boxing Day. And their second-half performance at the Emirates contained more energy and drive than the first. That late surge will have Newcastle players and fans considering themselves unfortunate not to triumph against a side who have now won four on the bounce.

    But “effort” only nourishes you for so long, just as “exposure” is no alternative to “money”. It does not offset the need for wins and points or give fans any greater comfort amid a winless seven-game run that has Newcastle out of all cup competitions and dropping three places in the table. Even if Bruce, as ever, sees a sunnier side.

    “I’ve seen positives in all of the games. It’s not easy when you’ve played Man City, Liverpool, Leicester (a 2-1 defeat) and now Arsenal. It’s been a particularly difficult period in terms of the games but I’ve seen positives.”

    When prompted to elaborate, Bruce said he saw the team adhere to his desire to base themselves higher up the pitch. A move he says will lead to similar chances that were spurned on Sunday. The green shoots of brighter, more expressive days ahead.

    “Yes we haven’t took the wins, but the reaction from the players and the shift — trying to get us higher up the pitch – I think they are getting used to it and we are making progress.

    Andy Carroll almost snatched victory for Newcastle at the Emirates
    Andy Carroll almost snatched victory for Newcastle at the Emirates

    (AFP via Getty Images)
    “Rather than sitting deep and playing off a low block, if you like. It’s to try and get us higher up the pitch. Of course, that’s always a difficult part and to win a game you’ve got to score a couple. That’s the positive for me – we’re trying something different and it nearly played dividends.”

    Newcastle did sit higher up the pitch, though that was clearest when Pierre Emerick Aubameyang was let loose with balls over the top from deep. Nevertheless, it was a noticeable shift and one, if it really is to be adopted, should become more defined in the coming weeks.

    If Bruce’s assertion of a new way is to be taken at face value, Tuesday’s trip to Bramall Lane presents the perfect opportunity to make good on it. Sheffield United, without a win in 17 Premier League games, narrowly made it past League One Bristol Rovers for their first win of 2020/21. You could not pick a better scenario to showcase this tactical ambition.

    Maintaining a higher line comes with a need to see more of the ball than your opponents, making better use of it in the final third and exploiting that dominance in front of goal. Looking at the numbers, such an approach needs a complete flip of their behaviours, and a more coherent attacking strategy than cross your fingers and hope Callum Wilson scores.

    No one this season has had less of the ball than Newcastle, averaging just 38 per cent possession per match. Their passing accuracy in the attacking half (66.53 per cent) is in the bottom three having attempted the least of all 20 sides. They are 19th when it comes to total touches in the opposition box so far.

    As such, talk of a change in approach comes with a fistful of salt. Newcastle under Bruce have dulled their attacking tendencies in pursuit of laborious defence. A tweak of this magnitude requires progressive football preached from top to bottom, something which has been nonexistent over the last 18 months. You can understand why fans are sceptical of this latest soundbite. Can this team and, more importantly, this manager really change their stripes?

    Of some comfort is that Bruce is preaching solutions rather than excuses. How long that lasts remains to be seen. They return to Arsenal next weekend, followed by matches at home to Leeds United and away to Everton. A run of fixtures where the temptation to drop back, in every sense, will be great.

    Whatever bravery necessary for this new direction needs to be dictated by actions from above. Any intent from the players matched tenfold by intent from Bruce. Otherwise, these are just more empty words to throw on the pyre at St James’ Park.

  • The Rev.Jim

    Jan 11, 2021 at 3:44 PM

    Comment #27

    Reading back and seeing some of the songs folk remembered.
    Who can remember the 12 days of xmas when Joe Harvey said to me 🙂

    5 McNamees and McFaul as the goalie
    too long to list them all
    My eyes have seen the glory of MacDonald scoring goals
    as the Mags go marching on
    Geordie,Geordie hallelujah

    One for the youngens
    Robert Lee robert lee running down the wing
    Robert Lee, Robert Lee,here the geordies sing

  • cleveleysbob

    Jan 11, 2021 at 3:45 PM

    Comment #28

    The Rev, you’re right of course our best hope would be that MA got in who the consortium wanted as a precursor to the takeover, as someone mentioned earlier, but he’d need to be 100% nailed on confident before he’d do that.

  • Tsunki

    Jan 11, 2021 at 3:50 PM

    Comment #29

    Good thing I studiously catch up on the blog or I would have missed Neil’s withering condemnation. Close call that because I was contemplating having a right old strop with someone. 🙂

    It’s probably just as well I didn’t, I would only have had to choose somebody at random, my heart wouldn’t have really been in it TBF.


    Now before you go saying i am one of the main protagonists just remember I’m not and don’t use profanities or insults so, y’know, just saying. And I will take issue with any idiot who says otherwise.

  • cleveleysbob

    Jan 11, 2021 at 3:51 PM

    Comment #30

    De Jong @25. Agreed mate, well and truly!

  • Tsunki

    Jan 11, 2021 at 3:51 PM

    Comment #31

    You know this squad freshness thing? Is it shake ‘n’ Vac or Febreze?

  • The Rev.Jim

    Jan 11, 2021 at 3:54 PM

    Comment #32

    Thanks Jail,a good read.
    Wonder if the bruce has the fa coaching manual open on page one.
    Or if it’s the tractor manual.As high line might mean around the fences to plough.

    I also wonder if the rumour about him buying the plough inn Ellington were true.
    It’s very near Linton,so maybe that link could be why Joe 9 plays every game.

    One things for sure about the bruce is every time he openss his gob,man ure comes out

  • cleveleysbob

    Jan 11, 2021 at 3:54 PM

    Comment #33

    Tsunki @29, welcome aboard the good ship “let’s be nice”.
    And thanks for turning up and giving me my daily smile, you can always be relied upon. 😉

  • Not another deJong

    Jan 11, 2021 at 3:54 PM

    Comment #34

    The most important match in the past month and, to me, there is no decision between picking an inform player and one returning from injury. Absolute nonsense, why can he not make his own narrative and push a positive agenda about his players. Of course Dubravka wants to play but this is why we have competition for places and ethics, not back to the drawing board and hoof it.

  • cleveleysbob

    Jan 11, 2021 at 3:57 PM

    Comment #35

    Have you noticed how really funny, many of the folks on here are, now that we’re not screaming blue murder at each other, it’s allowed the comedy to shine through, keep it up I’m loving it. 🙂

  • Adamn_92

    Jan 11, 2021 at 4:00 PM

    Comment #36

    There shouldn’t even need to be a decision to make. Darlow is in the form of his life and playing unreal, Dubravka has been out injured and played well in the one game he’s come back from. How is that a decision to make? Play Darlow and Dubravka is ready to go when needed, such as injury or loss of form to Darlow. Also ‘Lets hope I pick the right one’? This clown doesn’t even have confidence in himself, how can he give confidence to the players. I swear he never actually believes anything, it’s always I hope we play well and I hope we do this and hope we do that. It’s your job to make these things happen and make the right decision, christ almighty. Never have I heard such a negative manager in all my life, no wonder negativity breathes throughout the squad.

  • cleveleysbob

    Jan 11, 2021 at 4:02 PM

    Comment #37

    Nailed it Adam, and another one for Bruce’s coffin, well said.

  • Tackle from behind

    Jan 11, 2021 at 4:02 PM

    Comment #38

    Tranmere have ended the loan spell of Jack Young
    He returns to Newcastle Utd only half way through the loan period.

    Anyone know why?

  • Adamn_92

    Jan 11, 2021 at 4:03 PM

    Comment #39

    Honestly can you imagine a day in Bruce’s life. Wakes up and hopes he remembers to put pants on, hopes he remembers to eat breakfast, hopes he makes the right decision about whether to turn the oven off before leaving, hope he remembers to look both ways when crossing the road, hope he made the right decision about whether to tie his laces up, hope the red man at the traffic lights means to go fast, hopes he knows what to do at training today, hopes he remembers how to get home, hopes he made the right call to leave his car running all of the training session and hopes the battery light blinking means it’s fully charged.

  • cleveleysbob

    Jan 11, 2021 at 4:05 PM

    Comment #40

    Now I’m going away for a little while, so you can all talk about me while I’m gone, but nothing naughty mind, remember the new rules!
    I’ll be back about 10ish after catching up, talk later.


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