Certain players should not find their way into the starting lineup for Newcastle United unless there is an injury crisis.
Newcastle United are in a deep hole and getting out will require a combination of tactical changes, better lineup selection, and a new pecking order on the bench. Despite their difficult run of games leading up to Tuesday’s embarrassing result against Sheffield United, the Magpies held their own against some top teams.
The key in those games was applying more pressure and making the opposition uncomfortable in their half. Liverpool, Leicester City, and Arsenal were caught off guard by the pressure Newcastle United applied for 90 minutes, and this led to unforced errors, which, in turn, led to much more possession than the team is used to higher up the pitch.
Those pressure-centric tactics were nowhere to be seen at Bramall Lane though, but why is that? Well, look at the players Steve Bruce selected.
Bruce essentially deployed nine defensive-minded players in a must-win game ahead of a difficult string of fixtures. That being said, what is the main lesson to be taken from Tuesday’s frustrating result?
Permanent Demotion for 3 Players
A lot of things went wrong in a game the Magpies should have gone all out to win, but there are three players who definitely held the team back: Paul Dummett, Jeff Hendrick, and Sean Longstaff.
It was refreshing to hear Bruce say he takes “full responsibility” for his lineup selection, and it sounded like he was aware of the mistake he made up until he started complaining about VAR.
That mistake should never have occurred seeing that Bruce has been in the job for 18 months, but the trio listed above must be dropped… for good.
Dummett is far too slow to effectively cover as a wing-back, Hendrick offers nothing with the ball at his feet and his defensive effort is minimal, and Longstaff needs to emulate the energy his younger brother possesses.
If Newcastle United are to avoid the drop in the second half of the season they need more creativity, urgency, and aggression in central midfield and at wing-back.
Confidence is down at the moment, but hopefully players like Matty Longstaff, Jacob Murphy, and Matt Ritchie – until Javier Manquillo is fit – can provide a much needed spark against Arsenal.