There is no way Newcastle United stick with Steve Bruce when the club’s winless streak extends to 12 consecutive games, right?
Newcastle United may not be in the bottom three yet, but they are being labeled as the worst team in the Premier League by many pundits and neutral fans across England. As much as that stings the Toon Army, the Magpies’ loyal 12th man is in agreement with that criticism.
Is Newcastle United the worst team on paper? Far from it. The Toon actually have some players that make elite clubs drool, but the tactics implemented by Steve Bruce have placed an extremely low ceiling for success on Tyneside.
Nowhere near enough chances are being created in the final third, and the team is too dependent on Callum Wilson to influence outcomes with his clinical finishing, but even he is not getting many looks at goal due to a lack of support. Defensively, Bruce has altered the shape and lineup so many times that players have forgotten their roles, and that has greatly contributed to the team’s shocking inconsistency.
Newcastle United have not won a game since December 12th (West Brom, 2-1) and their recent form indicates that they might not win again until February 2nd when they host Crystal Palace at St. James’ Park. The key word in that sentence was might.
Upcoming Schedule = Nightmare
When looking ahead at the next four games it is easy to understand why so many fans are pessimistic. With four games in twelve days against Arsenal (A), Aston Villa (A), Leeds United (H), and Everton (A), Newcastle United might get a lucky point against an Aston Villa side that is battling a COVID outbreak, but they can forget waking up against the other three.
Despite their hot start to the season, the Magpies now find themselves looking over their shoulders with hope that they can stay one step ahead of Brighton and Fulham, who are only five and seven points behind, respectively. Whenever a team begins focusing on how others might impact their Premier League status, the crisis is there for all to see.
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Mike Ashley claims to support Bruce during this tough time, and reports claim that he will only part ways with the manager if the team falls into the bottom three, but even I do not think the business tycoon is that foolish. He desperately wants to save his investment and the potential takeover with the PIF of Saudi Arabia.
Ashley was burned by his decision to be patient with Steve McClaren, and he knows that had he brought in Rafa Benitez a week or two sooner Newcastle United would have stayed in the top flight. In total, 21 games will be in the books after the Everton vs. Newcastle United clash, which leaves 17 games to be played.
Of those 17 games, nine will be against Southampton (H), Chelsea (A), Manchester United (A), Aston Villa (H), Tottenham (H), Liverpool (A), Arsenal (H), Leicester City (A), and Manchester City (H). If Bruce is not able to get more than three or four points over the next four fixtures, my prediction is that Ashley will give him the boot.
17 games would offer a new manager time to learn the team, implement his brand of football, develop some consistency, and ride this wave of survival through. For all the bad decisions Ashley has made in the past, he has also surprised fans with some bold moves. Let’s hope his patience is running thin with Bruce despite what is being reported.