Newcastle United will surprise many opponents this season with their versatility.
Newcastle United got the job done against West Ham in London to start the 2020-21 campaign in the best way possible. A major contributing factor to this victory is centered on versatility.
Last season, Newcastle United were easy to prepare for, and easy to read in games. The main tactic for the Magpies was to feed the ball to Miguel Almiron and Allan Saint-Maximin to make something happen.
It worked for a little while, but teams eventually caught on. This season, however, and it was on display yesterday, Newcastle United enjoy quality depth and versatility, which is something the Magpies have not had for years.
West Ham were expecting to see Steve Bruce to deploy his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation with Almiron up the middle, Saint-Maximin and either Matt Ritchie or Ryan Fraser out wide.
Instead, Newcastle United set up in a 4-4-2 shape with Callum Wilson and Andy Carroll up top, and Jeff Hendrick on the wing opposite of Saint-Maximin.
No one saw that coming, and that element of surprise is what can carry this club to a successful season, which, in my opinion, would be a top ten finish.
The general expectation after a few weeks is that Wilson, Almiron, Fraser, and Saint-Maximin will be the primary attacking quartet in the final third, but Bruce now knows he can shift players around and still take the game to most opponents.
Bruce now has three players he can move around to play out wide or up the middle with confidence in Almiron, Saint-Maximin, and Hendrick. In addition, Joelinton can be a dark horse this season as he can play alongside Wilson, or set up shop on the wing as he did for Hoffenheim.
Fans have been optimistic for the last two weeks, and they should be. Signing players with proven records in the Premier League has significantly improved the overall quality of the squad, and presents Bruce with a tactical advantage.