Newcastle United Q&A: Tactics, changes & form under the microscope

Ryan Fraser of Newcastle United appeals to referee Mike Dean during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Leeds United at St. James Park on September 17, 2021 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.Ryan Fraser of Newcastle United appeals to referee Mike Dean during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Leeds United at St. James Park on September 17, 2021 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.
Ryan Fraser of Newcastle United appeals to referee Mike Dean during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Leeds United at St. James Park on September 17, 2021 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. | Getty Images
After another disappointing weekend for Newcastle United, attentions turn to the visit to newly-promoted Watford next Saturday for the Magpies - and our writer Liam Kennedy takes a look at the key issues ahead of the trip south.

Formation dilemma: Should Steve Bruce stick five at the back or go to four?

I’d like to think that now, Bruce and his coaches will see the error of their ways and change to a formation that suits more players in the side.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

While the concept of the 5-3-2 was the catalyst for the surge up the Premier League table from 17th to 12th at the back end of last season, it has not worked this. Defensively, United are far too easy to score against, especially with so many square pegs in round holes.

A move to 4-2-3-1 seemed to suit more.

Will Bruce stick or twist at Vicarage Road? Only time will tell.

Does Bruce need to rejig the defensive personnel?

I simply do not understand the logic behind keeping arguably your best two defenders out of the side, in favour of less talented players. To me, it seems like lunacy.

Federico Fernandez much be scratching his head as to why he is warming the United bench at present, and Fabian Schar can’t be too happy either, although the latter seems a whole lot more understandable than the former.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Is Fernandez a better player than Jamaal Lascelles and Ciaran Clark? If the answer is yes then he has to play.

Has Miguel Almiron’s recent form been good enough to keep him in the side?

No. The Paraguayan is struggling.

An improved show at Manchester United appears to have been an anomaly, as Almiron against revisited his struggles against Leeds United.

Shifted out of the midfield three and into a wider role when Bruce switched formations - and it suited him much more. But all too often Almiron equalled end of attack on Friday night.

Some big improvements are needed from the player.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Can Newcastle finally break their three-point ‘duck’ at the weekend?

They’re due a win. I personally thought it would come against Leeds, but that was not to be. And don’t ask me why - there isn’t much sensible logic to this - I do have a feeling it will come down at Watford.

It won’t be easy, no game in the Premier League is, but with Allan Saint-Maximin in the form of his life, United have a match-winner, provided they can defend properly.

And what did you make of the protests at St James’ Park on Friday?

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Well, I take my hat off to anyone who tries to organise something like the ProtestNUFC guys. Thing is, however, I just don’t believe there is a real appetite among the United faithful for a proper, sustained protest against anyone, whether that be the Premier League, Mike Ashley or Steve Bruce.

The paper planes didn’t really make much of an impact and whistles were few and far between, however the ‘Mags against Masters’ banner did get a decent airing in the corner of the East Stand.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.