Mixed feelings for Bruce as Newcastle fire blanks again
Steve Bruce revealed he had mixed emotions after seeing his radical plan to address Newcastle's goal-shyness fail to pay dividends against Burnley.
The Magpies have now gone six hours of Premier League football without a goal after Saturday’s 0-0 draw with the Clarets at St James’ Park, with even a change of system and different personnel unable to end the drought.
Speaking after the game, Bruce was pleased with the fact his side kept a clean sheet. But was again frustrated as his side failed to find the back of the net.
“We’ve had 20 attempts, I think, which is far more than we’ve had before and to be fair to Burnley, the number of times they got a block in or a deflection or a challenge, you have to say well done to them to for the defensive show they put on,” Bruce said.
“But there was a bit of it with which I was pleased. Room for improvement, of course like always, but I certainly thought that we were more of a threat and looked like scoring more.”
Bruce took a bold approach as he abandoned his three-man defence and opted for a 4-2-3-1 formation which included misfiring £40million striker Joelinton in a wide left position.
The ploy saw playmaker Jonjo Shelvey and frontman Dwight Gayle return to the starting line-up with Allan Saint-Maximin perhaps the most eye-catching absentee, although Bruce revealed the Frenchman had been left out after complaining of soreness in his hamstrings.
SB: “I didn’t think he [Allan Saint-Maximin] was right all week in training. On Thursday he was a little bit sore around his hamstring. That’s always going to be the case with him. In that respect it was an easy decision [not to start him].” pic.twitter.com/YuIRh9EbNA
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) February 29, 2020
Ultimately, it counted for little as, despite impressive individual displays from Shelvey, Joelinton and Miguel Almiron they were unable to create enough good opportunities and passed up those which did come their way with only four of their 21 attempts hitting the target.
Bruce said: “Twenty-one attempts, you don’t often get that in the Premier League, I can assure you, and we have to take one. There lies our problem.”