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Bruce Hopes Second Half ‘Spirit’ Will Carry Through Remainder Of The Season



Newcastle’s record at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League era is not good to put it plainly. Other than 2012 with the two super strikes from Papiss Cisse, Newcastle generally come up empty-handed. Last night was no different.

The first half was particularly disappointing as Newcastle started the match a little too passively. Chelsea showed their class with an emphasis down our exposed flanks, leaving Newcastle reeling and down 2 goals at the half. It really could have been 3 or 4.

The second half was an improvement though we lacked a cutting edge. Miguel Almiron, Allan Saint-Maximin, and Joe Willock were just not able to reproduce their exploits from a week ago against his superior Chelsea side.

Steve Bruce was buoyed by the improved second-half display but rued his side’s inability to deal with the Blues in the first. Here are some of his take aways from the match as published in The Chronicle:

“We were excellent in the second half and in the first half we found it very difficult.

“The way they played, the system they had, the two inside forwards – we didn’t deal with it well enough.

“Second half we got to grips with it and we were more aggressive – a lot of positives. The first half was very difficult for us.

“With 10-15 minutes to go, we can ask a question. We’re disappointed with the first half if I’m being brutally honest. We got back in the game in the second half.”

The defeat does little to assuage growing relegation fears on Tyneside. While Newcastle are still seven points above 18th placed Fulham, we are rightfully concerned when in this precarious position in the table. Two relegations under Mike Ashley have removed any benefit of the doubt.

If Bruce is concerned, he’s not showing any outward signs of distress. He believes that if Newcastle continue to play like they did over the past few matches, and the second half last night, that they should be ok by the end of the season.

Here is what he said when asked about being dragged into a relegation fight:

“I expect a fight from us, there’s six, seven, or eight teams in the bottom half with a long way to go and a lot of games to play.

“If we show that spirit like we did in that second half we’ll be alright.”

Newcastle should be nowhere near the position they are in. They have squandered opportunity after opportunity to have a comfortable season. Now we are in a fight for safety without the one player we could not afford to lose in Callum Wilson.

Last night was not a fixture to pick up points in, but wasted opportunities this season placed extra importance on this match. The lads showed some fight in the second half in what was likely a lost cause.

Now it’s on to Old Trafford against Manchester United, who have been hit or miss against the bottom half of the table. Hopefully, the lads will come out inspired and ready to fight from the opening whistle as there’s not much hope we’ll have a seven-point cushion over Fulham by kick-off on Sunday.

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143 comments so far

  • Tsunki

    Feb 16, 2021 at 11:04 AM

    Comment #1

    Last word first!

    1
  • Tsunki

    Feb 16, 2021 at 11:04 AM

    Comment #2

    Ahaaaaaaa!!!!!!!

    Victory!

    😀

    0
  • Tsunki

    Feb 16, 2021 at 11:04 AM

    Comment #3

    The wheels on the bus are going round and round chaps!

    2
  • Gothmog's Pyjamas

    Feb 16, 2021 at 11:06 AM

    Comment #4

    Well lets see what we learned from last night when we play Man U. Likely to be similar in that they will be the dominant team so hopefully we will have a plan for that.

    Think our formation will be better suited to Man U as Chelsea’s wingbacks murdered us time and again and outnumbered Lewis and Krafth every attack. Playing against a 4231 might suit us more although leaving 3 upfield all the time will lead to our FBs getting little support and I don think Shelvey in particular has the engine to get across every time to provide cover.

    Sadly these 2 games were never going to be the ones which define our season, the run pre-jones where bruce lost the plot was the real issue – how many points were conceded there without a fight?

    Man U just drew with West Brom too, if they can get a result why shouldnt we?

    4
  • Northumbrian

    Feb 16, 2021 at 11:08 AM

    Comment #5

    There should be none of the above under the team list Neil.

    1
  • Tsunki

    Feb 16, 2021 at 11:08 AM

    Comment #6

    Moonraker it looked like the coaches area was told to show some solidarity but there was an odd amount of little dialogue between them even when frantically observing and reacting to on field events. I’m not really sure now under what remit Jones was brought in.

    1
  • Carson80

    Feb 16, 2021 at 11:08 AM

    Comment #7

    We were excellent in the 2nd half, errr no.

    4
  • Tsunki

    Feb 16, 2021 at 11:10 AM

    Comment #8

    I’d go lascelles simply because of that tackle on Abraham. Mind he did look shot again at the end. He’s still not there but he’s been put back in because we are desperate, simple as.

    1
  • Optimistic prime

    Feb 16, 2021 at 11:11 AM

    Comment #9

    Does the second half spirit know about tactics form

    1
  • Shoulders knees

    Feb 16, 2021 at 11:11 AM

    Comment #10

    They had it won by half time, didn’t need to break sweat second. Resting our survival on a positive 2nd half is well delusional

    8
  • hibbit

    Feb 16, 2021 at 11:14 AM

    Comment #11

    whats really pissing me off… it’s so obvious that were not even doing the basic background work on opposing players and teams, Chelsea were very well prepared for knew all about ASM and marked him out of the game and had definitely pinpoint our FB’s as a weakness and exploited it,

    13
  • onmeedsun

    Feb 16, 2021 at 11:18 AM

    Comment #12

    NY Mag
    Well done on being a grandad.
    It used to be a given that the little one would be indoctrinated into all things B&W. I’m not so sure anymore. Keegan says that one day we’ll get our club back, but in who’s lifetime.
    Following this club is just not enjoyable or worth it anymore.

    8
  • Carson80

    Feb 16, 2021 at 11:18 AM

    Comment #13

    Think Bruce still thinks it’s the Everton game, after all they do play in the same colour. Also why is it he always laughs and smiles when we get beat, nowt funny about it at all.

    9
  • TheTinman

    Feb 16, 2021 at 11:18 AM

    Comment #14

    hibbit, couldn’t agree more. ASM was doubled or tripled up on everytime he got the ball. That should give us space to exploit on the other side, problem is that was the space Gayle was ‘occupying’.

    Our full backs were thrown to the wolves by our coaching staff. Neither Hayden, Shelvey or Willock got out to support them in the way Kovacic was supporting theirs. I think Gayle and ASM might have been asked to stay a bit forward to try and exploit space behind their full backs, if not then the tracking back by those two was also criminal.

    4
  • TheTinman

    Feb 16, 2021 at 11:19 AM

    Comment #15

    The 2nd half was better, how much of that was down to us improving and them resting we will never truly know. I know which I would bet on it being though!

    0
  • kimbo

    Feb 16, 2021 at 11:19 AM

    Comment #16

    After 10 minutes it was apparent that the Bruce`s tactics and formation was not going to work and Bruceless could not change it or did not know how to rearrange the players.

    3
  • Carson80

    Feb 16, 2021 at 11:22 AM

    Comment #17

    Hibbit I seriously wonder what the regime is on preparing for the next game. Do they watch videos of the opposition, do the players get told where to run who to mark, is there any serious in depth analysis.

    2
  • TheTinman

    Feb 16, 2021 at 11:23 AM

    Comment #18

    Gothmogs, I would tend to agree with your opinion that Man U might be a better match for our formation. The only concern is AWB and Shaw do both get through a lot of work up and down the wing so it may still be an issue.

    I’d definitely go ASM on the RW and Fraser on the left as AWB is almost unstoppable in a one on one defending situation. Fraser is more likely to cut back and get the cross in rather than trying to go past him which just doesn’t seem to happen.

    1
  • Shoulders knees

    Feb 16, 2021 at 11:24 AM

    Comment #19

    Carson
    Doubt it they haven’t mastered throw ins yet 😉

    4
  • kimbo

    Feb 16, 2021 at 11:24 AM

    Comment #20

    So looking at all the comments today we can clearly say Bruce is clueless and will take us down.

    2
  • TheTinman

    Feb 16, 2021 at 11:25 AM

    Comment #21

    Hit the nail on the head kimbo. We know Chelsea are better and even if we match up to them we will more than likely get beat. But when every man and his dog can see we were vulnerable in our formation so quickly but our coaching team didn’t make any changes it really p!sses you off.

    3
  • Shoulders knees

    Feb 16, 2021 at 11:26 AM

    Comment #22

    Kimbo
    Spot on

    0
  • TheTinman

    Feb 16, 2021 at 11:26 AM

    Comment #23

    Too right Shoulders, what ever happened to a quick throw in?!?! No, let’s let them get organised so we can lose the 2nd ball. Crikey.

    5
  • DubaiMicky

    Feb 16, 2021 at 11:26 AM

    Comment #24

    https://theathletic.com/2388793/2021/02/16/sheer-dread-has-taken-hold-of-newcastles-fanbase/

    By Chris Waugh 3h ago

    “We always talk down Newcastle United. It’s just the way they are. But we don’t mention Brighton being relegated, we don’t mention Burnley. Newcastle are still in a relatively OK position.”

    Really? If that is the case, Gary Neville, then why does it feel like the world is collapsing in again and history is repeating itself with a third Premier League relegation inside 12 years since Mike Ashley bought the club in 2007?

    Sky Sports pundit Neville would probably argue that, should you ask any neutral if they would rather be in Newcastle’s position or Fulham’s, they would unanimously pick the former.

    Although third-bottom Fulham have a game in hand and a better goal difference (minus-12 to minus-15), they are seven points behind 17th-placed Newcastle and have only three league wins to their seven.

    Sheer logic suggests that, with almost two-thirds of the 38-game season now gone, Fulham are overwhelming favourites to join basement club Sheffield United, who appear doomed, and second-bottom West Bromwich Albion, who are barely better off, in the Championship next season.

    But football fandom and rational thinking rarely occur concurrently.

    That is particularly so among Newcastle supporters, left scarred by those two relegations since 2009, the second of which appeared so telegraphed and yet which the club still managed to sleepwalk into.

    That is why Monday’s routine 2-0 defeat to Chelsea, a result that was entirely expected, against a superior side and at a ground where Newcastle have won just once in 26 league visits during the Premier League era, somehow feels far more damaging to those fans than common sense suggests it should.

    After all, Fulham had won at Everton 24 hours earlier to close the gap between the teams, a result which stoked the tensions that had already been heightened by news of Callum Wilson’s torn hamstring.

    “If Newcastle still had Wilson fit, we wouldn’t even be talking about them and relegation,” Neville said.

    No shit. Newcastle fans have been saying this all season; if Wilson stays injury-free, then they will be OK.

    But the unfortunate reality is that Wilson is not fit. In fact, the direct source of 40 per cent of Newcastle’s 25 Premier League goals so far is out for “six to eight weeks”, according to Steve Bruce, the head coach. Some sources suggest that is a conservative estimate.

    Regardless, Newcastle’s difference-maker — one of two such players they possess; Allan Saint-Maximin would undoubtedly improve every other side in the bottom half — will not be seen again until at least April. By then, their fate may have been sealed.

    Fulham play twice, at 16th-placed Burnley and home against Sheffield United, before Newcastle’s next match, away to Manchester United on Sunday. So, in theory, they could reduce that seven-point cushion to just a point.

    And some Newcastle fans are convinced that is what is about to happen.

    This fatalism has arisen little more than a week after an uplifting 3-2 win over Southampton. It was Newcastle’s second triumph in three games — following nine league matches without a victory that included five losses in a row — and their third encouraging performance in a row.

    Yet, perversely, Newcastle somehow find themselves in an apparently weaker position than they were in immediately following that long, winless streak. That is because Brighton & Hove Albion and Burnley have moved ahead in the table with recent wins of their own, while Fulham have picked up momentum.

    Yet, as far as the form table goes, Newcastle have collected the same number of points from their last six games (six) as Fulham. During that time, they have also won a game more (two) than Scott Parker’s Londoners.

    Since Newcastle defeated West Brom on December 12 to go 11th with 17 points after 11 games, Fulham have only managed to marginally reduce a 10-point deficit in the next 13 rounds of fixtures (albeit they retain a game in hand).

    Newcastle are also better off, points-wise at least, than they were at this stage of three of their last four top-flight campaigns. The exception was last season, when they had 30 points after 24 games, yet their seven-point advantage to the bottom three is identical to the one they held a year ago and exceeds that of previous seasons.

    That is perhaps why Newcastle do not appear likely to make a managerial change in the immediate term, and why Bruce remains confident they will avoid the drop.

    “It’s the accumulation of points over the season,” he replied when asked by The Athletic if it was now a case of Newcastle having to hold their nerve. “We’ve had a difficult, difficult spell in terms of picking up points. Of course, we’d like to win a couple of games quickly, and that’s what we’ll try and do. We knew coming here and going to Man U is going to be very difficult.”

    More curious was Bruce’s assertion that “seven or eight teams” will be looking downwards. That would mean Arsenal, in 10th with 34 points, fear demotion.

    Realistically, however, Crystal Palace, 14th with 29 points, are close to safety. Which leaves just four teams – Brighton, Burnley, Newcastle and Fulham – fighting to avoid going down with West Brom and Sheffield United.

    Three of those teams picked up points in their most recent fixtures. Newcastle were the only ones not to.

    More worryingly, perhaps, was the listless nature of their first-half performance against Chelsea. It was emblematic of the wider issues at the club, one that is drifting, rudderless and directionless, waiting for a takeover that may never happen.

    While Fulham strengthened in January with Josh Maja, a striker who might just provide the goals they desperately need to survive, Newcastle did the bare minimum, signing Joe Willock from Arsenal on loan. And, rather than acting decisively on the managerial front, they dallied and brought in Graeme Jones as an additional assistant, rather than a new head coach who may have added a much-needed freshness.

    On the face of it, panic has set in solely because Fulham ended their own 12-game winless run the week after Wilson suffered his injury. But apprehension, caused by long-accepted shortcomings, was prevalent on Tyneside; these latest events have only exacerbated those anxieties further.

    As even Neville himself admitted, “Newcastle could blow up if Fulham get close to them in the next few weeks.”

    With those two winnable matches to come before Newcastle play again, that theory is about to be tested.

    That is why rational thinking is absent among Newcastle fans right now.

    Instead, sheer dread has taken hold.

    6
  • hibbit

    Feb 16, 2021 at 11:31 AM

    Comment #25

    Tinman @14 we all seen it why didn’t Bruce and his coaches,especially with good options on the bench to change it round, 😡

    3
  • Shoulders knees

    Feb 16, 2021 at 11:32 AM

    Comment #26

    TheTinman

    I would get annoyed if an u/10s took them like that. It’s just basic and to be fair it’s now beyond a joke

    2
  • Carson80

    Feb 16, 2021 at 11:32 AM

    Comment #27

    Shoulders Knees true that, when we get awarded throw in’s we might as well just give them the ball back.

    1
  • Ron Knee

    Feb 16, 2021 at 11:34 AM

    Comment #28

    RIP Iain Pattinson (scriptwriter for “I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue”)

    Apt.

    3
  • Jail for Ashley

    Feb 16, 2021 at 11:36 AM

    Comment #29

    So he’s convinced himself that we might be OK because Brighton, Burnley, Palace and Wolves are sh!te as well.

    2
  • lochinvar

    Feb 16, 2021 at 11:37 AM

    Comment #30

    Bruce really isnt good at maths is he?

    First half 2-0
    Second half 0-0

    As we played well in the second half he wants to take the plaudits for doing better and drawing 0-0, which is a result, well sort of in his mind.

    Clearly football is according to the Little Chef notebook of Chief Bruce no longer a game of two halves.

    Someone tell the FA quick.

    Meanwhile I’m off to bash my head against a wall.

    6
  • Shoulders knees

    Feb 16, 2021 at 11:38 AM

    Comment #31

    Carson
    Well maybe we can get set whilst we pass the ball to them, or maybe not

    0
  • WLtoon

    Feb 16, 2021 at 11:39 AM

    Comment #32

    Living in an area where it is 60/40 in favour of Nufc, i am very aware of the ribbing coming my way if we go down, not just the relegation issue but the fact the mackems are on the verge of having a new owner, apparently he is worth 2B, or at least his family are.
    If you think it is bad this season then just wait until we are in the champo with Bruce, taking a tonking off the Boro and the mackems will hammer home just what might of been if the Saudi`s hadn`t walked.
    Oh yes, i am the bringer of good tidings this morning lol

    1
  • lochinvar

    Feb 16, 2021 at 11:41 AM

    Comment #33

    Are Diamonds still forever?

    Or will Bruce prefer the straight line across the back option.

    Maybe a Triangle?
    What about a circle formation to confuse the opposition?
    Why no octagon?

    4
  • Adamn_92

    Feb 16, 2021 at 11:42 AM

    Comment #34

    Easy to be better in the second half when the game is lost in the first half so the other team go into complete cruise control knowing the game is won. Going from awful to bad/below average isn’t exactly the improvement we need either.

    6
  • Shoulders knees

    Feb 16, 2021 at 11:44 AM

    Comment #35

    We seem United today that we are deep in the Mire, that’s not to say we weren’t before but this week Fulham have bought it into sharp focus.
    This could be the defining moment. If Fulham do win twice and we lose once. Will we have the metal to fight let alone get some results, Bruce seems to set his stall on us playing better ! Someone needs to tell him it’s a result based business

    3
  • Just a fan

    Feb 16, 2021 at 11:44 AM

    Comment #36

    Well by the comments Jones got that all wrong.
    Better hand the reins back to Bruce for the next game.

    2
  • lochinvar

    Feb 16, 2021 at 11:45 AM

    Comment #37

    Ashley is the host and badly infected or affected or both.

    He’s contagious as well as the Management and coaching staff ( Jones excepted) have contracted this.

    Delusions are the main symptom of delusional disorder. They’re unshakable beliefs in something that isn’t true or based on reality.

    3
  • Carson80

    Feb 16, 2021 at 11:46 AM

    Comment #38

    Me thinks not sadly. Eeeeh I do look forward to our next game.

    0
  • wartongeordie

    Feb 16, 2021 at 11:48 AM

    Comment #39

    Lewis might as well wear a slipper on his right foot and someone make themselves available at throw ins, don’t think we ever keep possession from one.

    3
  • TheTinman

    Feb 16, 2021 at 11:54 AM

    Comment #40

    Wartongeordie, is that Warton as in just by Thropton? Or Lancashire

    0


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