Steve Bruce has done a solid job at Newcastle United and he has brought the best out of some key players.
Eight games remain on Newcastle United’s schedule this season, but Steve Bruce has already led his side to safety. At the time of this writing, Newcastle United have claimed 38 points in 30 games and are 11 points clear of the bottom three. A win against Aston Villa this afternoon could increase that gap to 14 points.
For all the adversity this team faced last summer, they certainly do look united with the former Sheffield Wednesday boss calling the shots on the sideline.
A key reason for the club’s success this season is linked to the consistent performances of some key players. That being said, the following midfielders have broken out of their shells under Bruce.
Let’s begin with the most obvious choice: Jonjo Shelvey. The mercurial midfielder showed flashes of individual brilliance under Rafa Benitez, especially in the second half of the 2017-18 campaign, but he found himself jumping in and out of the lineup.
Shelvey did struggle with a few lingering injuries, which opened the door for more competition, but it was reported that Benitez was not impressed with Shelvey’s work ethic. At the start of this season, Shelvey opened up on his relationship with the Spaniard and said that team spirit was not the greatest as Benitez kept to himself and made the lineup unpredictable.
Bruce clearly values Shelvey more and made him an integral player for the Magpies. The open communication from Bruce, and the confidence he expresses in Shelvey every week has worked wonders as the playmaker leads the team with five goals in league action.
Miguel Almiron was the club’s marquee signing under Benitez, but he failed to have a major impact when it came to scoring goals and providing assists. Almiron did well to set up big plays for Salomon Rondon and Ayoze Perez, but due to playing out of position as a winger, the Paraguayan’s success was limited.
Bruce is also guilty of making the same mistake for a good portion of this season, but his decision to play the former Atlanta United star up the middle in recent months was the right call.
As a winger, Almiron would cause problems with his pace, but in a more central attacking role his impact in the final third has increased significantly.
With Bruce handing Almiron more of a free role behind Joelinton, the Paraguayan has been directly involved in eight goals for the Magpies across all competitions by scoring six times and providing two assists. It will be interesting to see how many goals Almiron will score by the end of the season.