This Newcastle squad’s lack of motivation at the moment is a poor reflection on Steve Bruce. The lads at times seem unmoved on the pitch. While I don’t knock their effort, there’s just been a malaise about the group this season.
There are plenty of events over the past year that can be pointed to as a potential cause. There’s been the disjointed start to this season due to the pandemic, the failed takeover that dragged on and on, and the Covid outbreak at the club in December.
Last season, the bulk of the performances were uninspiring, however, the lads showed a tenacity that has been absent for the most part this season. We can’t see this year’s rendition of Bruce’s boys pulling out late miracles like against Chelsea or at Everton last season.
Former Magpie Warren Barton, who is currently a pundit in the States, spoke to TalkSPORT about last night’s performance at Sheffield United. Barton has expressed perfectly the problem this season, and last to be fair.
The Chronicle has transcribed Barton’s comments, which are just spot on about Steve Bruce’s negative impact on the players before the ball is even kicked:
“I think it’s a mindset.
“I think of Newcastle going forward, being ambitious, winning games. Steve is going into games, not just now but all this season and last season, it’s about not getting beat and that sets a tone in the game.
“You’re playing against Sheffield United yesterday who haven’t won a game. You know they are going to be petrified and they are going to be nervous. We let them get into the game, we let them get a hold of the ball and we let them get some tempo.
“Forget about the red card. Even before that, the tone was set.
“Even when he gets interviewed afterwards, Steve, he’s supposed to be a Geordie from that area. When he wins the game there’s no passion. I remember Sir Bobby Robson and he’d be smiling from ear to ear, and Kevin Keegan as well.
“I used to walk into St James’ Park thinking: ‘how lucky am I to be playing for this football club?’ I don’t see that from the staff, I don’t see it from Steve, and I feel for the players because I think there’s enough quality to be playing a lot better, attractive football and winning games than what we’re doing at the moment.
“This has been a long time coming.
“Nobody looks like they are, even when they win a game, enjoying it, which is such a strange thing to say. I know Steve and I have got a lot of respect for him, he’s a good football guy but I don’t see him enjoying being manager of Newcastle and he is a Geordie so he should be enjoying it more than anybody.
“I look at what Steven Gerrard has done to Glasgow Rangers. He’s gone in there and grabbed that club by the scruff of the neck. He’s got hold of that club and took it forward. Someone needs to do that with Newcastle.
“Whether that is Steve or the ownership, they should enjoy being in that football club. There’s no ambition in the players.
“What is demoralizing for me as an ex-player, captain, spectator, whatever you want to call it, is that it is not enjoyable to watch. I am sure it can’t be fun to play in either.
“There have been glimpses. They got the new signings, they beat West Ham and you thought: ‘Come on then, boys. let’s have a go.’.
“But then it has slowly, slowly, turned back around again. It is negative, it is boring and it drains you because you can’t see a light at the end of the tunnel.”