Former Villa man provides damning insight into Steve Bruce’s training methods

Former Aston Villa defender Ritchie De Laet has provided an insight into Steve Bruce’s training style, comparing it to an under 9’s session.

In an old interview, which has gone viral this week, the Belgian wasn’t kind to his old boss, who is under pressure at Newcastle United, as they slip towards the Premier League relegation zone.

One of the quotes from the interview, which you can see on the Sport Social Twitter feed, said Bruce used to throw the ball into the middle of the players in training and declare “let’s play”, and compared the strategy to under-9’s football training.

De Laet also said that the football Bruce played was similar to the style Tony Pulis employed, although at least Pulis had a plan for his teams.

The quotes won’t surprise Newcastle fans, who have lost patience with their manager, having not won any of their last nine games in all competitions.

De Laet’s words also check out when you learn that former Birmingham City defender Mario Melchiot said something similar some years ago, claiming that Bruce didn’t focus too much on tactics during training sessions.

With Mike Ashley unlikely to make drastic changes anytime soon, Newcastle fans are hoping something changes to stop the rot at the club, as it looks likely that they will be dragged into a relegation battle with Sheffield United, West Brom, Fulham, Brighton and Burnley this season.

Arsenal 3-0 Newcastle United: Aubameyang brace piles more misery on Magpies

The Gunners captain struck either side of a Bukayo Saka goal as the hosts recorded a 3-0 victory which sees them move into the top-half of the Premier League table.

Bruce made eight changes from the side beaten by bottom club Sheffield United last week but they were outplayed at the Emirates Stadium, where Mikel Arteta continues to oversee an upturn in form.

Aubameyang was guilty of a huge miss in the early minutes of a first half of few chances – with all the goals coming after the break as Arsenal’s superiority began to shine through.

The hosts had started slowly but the Gabon forward had a chance to open the scoring, instead hitting a post from three yards – a tight angle the only thing working in his defence.

Thomas Partey was back in the side and impressed once more but he fired high and wide as the hosts began to enjoy a period of dominance.

Miguel Almiron flashed a shot just over to show Newcastle could threaten if given a chance, but the opportunities would continue to come the way of the hosts.

Aubameyang came close with a rising shot after being found by Emile Smith Rowe and the Arsenal skipper was not having the best night in front of goal as he sent his next effort bobbling wide.

A slice of luck is what he needed and he almost got just that, seeing a cross deflect off Emil Krafth to send goalkeeper Karl Darlow scrambling to turn the ball behind for a corner which David Luiz then headed wide when completely unmarked.

Alexandre Lacazette had endured a quiet opening 45 minutes but he drew a smart save out of Darlow shortly after the restart with a low drive.

The Newcastle keeper would have no chance moments later as Aubameyang latched onto a long ball from Partey, running in on goal unchallenged before finishing well.

Andy Carroll shot wide as Newcastle looked to strike back from a rare foray forward but instead, Bruce soon saw his side slip further behind.

Arsenal’s two academy stars combined to double their advantage, Smith Rowe darting into the box down the right before squaring for Saka to turn home.

Arsenal scored a third as Aubameyang tucked home his second from a Cedric cross, a VAR check confirming the ball did not go out of play before the Portugal full-back played it into the box.

It was another blow to Bruce and his players as criticism continues to mount on the Magpies boss.

A 1,000-strong supporter group named Toon For Change is now calling for Bruce to be sacked and it remains to be seen if he survives following another deserved defeat.

Arsenal, meanwhile, with the likes of Partey now fit and Aubameyang back among the goals, will continue to look up rather than down.

Bruce declares “gloves are off” at Newcastle

The Newcastle manager’s odds on being sacked were slashed in the wake of the 1-0 defeat, with many fans calling for the 60-year-old to be given the boot after an awful performance at Bramall Lane.

But ahead of the game with Arsenal on Monday night, Bruce revealed that the “gloves were off” and a change in approach was coming.

Speaking to the press, the manager revealed that he’s made it clear to the players the way he wants to play, yet hasn’t done it enough during his 18 months in charge at his boyhood club.

Quite why he hasn’t done it enough after being in the job for a season and a half is anyone’s guess, but fans will want to see an immediate improvement as they sit 15th in the Premier League table after almost half the season.

Newcastle haven’t won a league game since beating West Brom in mid-December and with some tough fixtures coming up and teams below them starting to pick up points, Newcastle don’t have as much comfort as some might think.

Bruce needs to start producing results quickly if he is to turn the tide in his favour at St James’ Park.

Premier League Preview: Arsenal v Newcastle

Goals from Emile Smith-Rowe and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang secured a 2-0 FA Cup win in that tie and Arsenal Mikel Arteta will be hoping for another positive result against Steve Bruce.

The Spanish coach is expected to shuffle his options however after his team slipped to a disappointing 0-0 draw with Crystal Palace in midweek.

Scottish international Kieran Tierney should be fit to come back in alongside the returning Thomas Partey and Nicolas Pepe.

Meanwhile the pressure continues to build on Bruce with no Premier League wins in over a month.

The former defender will make a few late fitness checks before naming his team with Jamal Lewis, Jonjo Shelvey and Jamaal Lascelles all battling to be fit.

Argentinian centre back Federico Fernandez has already been ruled out due to a thigh problem with Ryan Fraser serving a one game ban.

And Kick Off is all set for 8pm start on Monday night at the Emirates Stadium.

Sheffield United 1-0 Newcastle United: Blades secure first league win of the season against miserable Magpies

The club captain, 34, came on as a second-half substitute and showed all of his experience to remain calm and score a 73rd-minute spot-kick as the Blades won 1-0 on Tuesday night.

The goal ended a dismal run of 15 defeats in 17 Premier League matches during the 2020-21 campaign and was the least Chris Wilder’s team deserved after dominating against a negative and unimaginative Newcastle side.

The Magpies were uninspired and mundane before Ryan Fraser’s red card just before half-time made their task even harder.

Wilder’s men were on the front foot for the majority of the first half and certainly did not look like a team adrift at the bottom of the table and unable to win.

The Blades cut open their opponents on several occasions with crisp passing but, as has been the case so often this season, they were not clinical in the final third.

Reported Rangers target John Lundstram was at the heart of most things early on, threatening with a couple of long-range efforts which flew narrowly wide before sliding a pass behind the Newcastle defence for David McGoldrick, who forced Karl Darlow into a decent save down to his left.

McGoldrick went close again when he got on the end of a Ethan Ampadu cross but he powered his header over the crossbar. It was a big miss by the former Republic of Ireland international.

Newcastle were unable to get out of their own half, with Callum Wilson isolated, as Wilder’s side continued to apply pressure in search of a deserved goal.

Federico Fernandez made a goal-saving challenge, sliding in to block John Fleck’s shot.

Despite the Blades’ dominance, it was Newcastle who almost took the lead against the run of play just before the half-hour mark. Wilson, anonymous until now, found a yard of space off the shoulder of John Egan at the near post to get on the end of Fernandez’s cross but he headed the ball wide from eight yards out.

It would have been a sickener for the hosts had they fallen behind but it served as a warning that perhaps they were being too gung-ho at times in their desperation to get that maiden win.

Fernandez made another superb block to get back and deny Oliver Burke when he raced into the penalty area as half-time approached. If the defender had got that wrong he would likely be sent off.

Fraser did see a red card before the break. Two tackles on John Fleck and then Lundstram in quick succession meant he would not be coming out for the second half – a half in which his team-mates now faced an uphill battle to get anything from the game.

Newcastle had been negative all night and with 10 men they obviously offered nothing more.

Darlow produced a fine reaction save to thwart Jayden Bogle at the start of the second half, after DeAndre Yedlin failed to properly clear the ball.

Wilder, sensing this was a golden opportunity to get that first Premier League victory on the board, made an attacking change after 51 minutes, taking off defender Chris Basham and bringing on Rhian Brewster. Sharp soon followed.

And it was the club captain who secured the match-winning penalty. A long ball forward was contested between Sharp and Fernandez into the box, with the Blades striker going down under the challenge. There was also a suggestion the ball hit the arm of the Newcastle defender.

Referee Andy Madley awarded the penalty after consulting VAR and Sharp put his team in front against the 10 men and on the brink of victory, rolling the ball into the bottom left corner as Darlow dived to his right.

However, the closing stages would not be as comfortable as the hosts had hoped. Wilson should have done better than send a header straight into the arms of Aaron Ramsdale, while Jacob Murphy found the goalkeeper’s midriff with a free-kick from a dangerous position on the edge of the penalty area.

In between, Brewster was unlucky to see his 20-yard effort strike the foot of a post.

Confusion in stoppage time between Bogle and Ramsdale put Blades hearts in mouths as a chested pass back went wrong, leaving the goalkeeper scrambling towards his line to retrieve the ball – which rolled inches wide.

Wilder’s team survived the resulting corner for a first Premier League win of the season and first in 21 games since defeating Chelsea at Bramall Lane on July 11.

Premier League: Sheffield United v Newcastle United

The Blades picked up their first win of the season on Saturday, beating League One side Bristol Rovers 3-2 in a game where they were twice pegged back by their lower league counterparts.

Shortly after, Newcastle exited the competition after losing 2-0 to Arsenal after extra time, missing a host of chances to win the game within 90 minutes.

As attention turns back to league competition, this game serves as one that both sides will regard as important, with Sheffield United’s time running out to begin their fight against the drop.

They’ve yet to win this season in the league, but will fancy their chances against a Newcastle side that haven’t won any of their last six games in all competitions.

As such, the bookies have Chris Wilder’s side as the favourites to win the match, which outlines just how the Magpies have slumped recently.

Steve Bruce’s back five system remains unpopular with fans, but a back four formation may be used as they target a win against the Blades which could ease the gap between them and the bottom three.

The Newcastle boss confirmed that he left some players out of the visit to Arsenal in order to be fresh for the trip to the Steel City, with Fabian Schar, Karl Darlow and Federico Fernandez all ready to return to the squad. Whether Darlow will get the nod over Martin Dubravka remains to be seen, after the Slovakian stopper turned in an excellent performance at the Emirates on his return from injury.

Allan Saint-Maximin is waiting for COVID guidelines to rule when he can return to training so will miss out, but Jamaal Lascelles got through most of the Arsenal game before being substituted due to fatigue, and could make the squad.

Callum Wilson and Jonjo Shelvey were among those who didn’t travel to London, and should both make the squad, along with Jamal Lewis, who has been struggling with a knock recently.

For Sheffield United, Chris Wilder has five players who are struggling with injuries and will be assessed closer to kick-off. Lys Mousset, Enda Stevens and George Baldock are more likely to make the squad than Phil Jagielka and Billy Sharp though. Sander Berge is out for up to four months with a tendon injury.

A win for Sheffield United could take them to within three points of West Brom at the bottom of the table, while a Newcastle victory would put them 11 points clear of the relegation zone after 17 games.

Newcastle United take on Sheffield United at Bramall Lane on Tuesday, January 12th. Kick-off is at 6pm.

Arsenal edge out Newcastle in FA Cup win

The Gunners finally broken their visitors resistance after the 100 minute mark with crucial goals from Emile-Smith Rowe and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Arsenal looked bright and breezy in the opening stages with Reiss Nelson and Nicolas Pepe testing Martin Dubravka.

But despite the positive start in North London the game descended into a slug fest after the break with half chances for Willock and Andy Carroll.

The introduction of Smith-Rowe tipped the balance for Arsenal in the extra 30 as the England U20 international superbly fired home.

Newcastle threw the kitchen sink at it in the final minutes but Arsenal wrapped it up in last few seconds as Aubameyang tucked home his first goal in over a month.

Full Time at the Emirates Stadium it’s Arsenal 2 Newcastle 0

Leicester City kick off 2021 with 2-1 Newcastle win

The Foxes begin the New Year back in third place as second half goals from James Maddison and Youri Tielemans secured a big three points on Tyneside.

Both sides struggling to get going in a freezing opening 45 at St. James’, with wasted chances from Jamie Vardy and Tielemans the closest to an opening.

However, despite hitting Magpies defensive wall before the break, the visitors did finally conjure a breakthrough ten minutes after the restart.

Harvey Barnes’ run scattered a host of Newcastle defenders as he fed in Vardy as the Leicester talisman squared for Maddison to smash past Karl Darlow.

That released the pressure on the Foxes from there on out as Tielemans made the game safe with 15 to play with a rocket into the bottom corner.

But in the spirit of very little making sense at the moment, Steve Bruce opted to throw on Andy Carroll in the closing minutes.

And in a moment for Premier League trivia fans to savour in the months ahead he smashed home his first Newcastle goal in over a decade.

Full Time at St. James’ Park it’s Newcastle 1 Leicester City 2

Premier League: Newcastle United 0-0 Liverpool

Nathaniel Phillips was handed a Premier League start for Liverpool with Jurgen Klopp’s defensive resources having been further depleted.

With Joel Matip having joined long-term absentees Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez on the casualty list, Phillips was included along with former Magpies midfielder James Milner in two changes to the side which drew 1-1 with West Brom as Matip and Georginio Wijnaldum made way.

Newcastle Head Coach Steve Bruce made just one change in the wake of Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at Manchester City, striker Callum Wilson returning from an ankle problem in place of Miguel Almiron.

Newcastle started brightly with Wilson forcing two saves from keeper Alisson inside the opening 12 minutes and giving as good as they got for much of the half.

However, Liverpool might have taken the lead 11 minutes before the break when Mohamed Salah stabbed wide having seemingly done the hard work, and it took a fine reaction save from Karl Darlow to deny Roberto Firmino in stoppage time and ensure the sides headed back to the dressing rooms with the scoreline still 0-0.

Salah was guilty of another glaring miss after the break and Darlow produced another stunning save to prevent Firmino from snatching the win two minutes from time as Liverpool once again had to make do with a point.

Premier League Preview: Newcastle United v Liverpool

The Reds slipped to a late draw against West Brom last time out, and with Everton and Manchester United breathing down their necks, Klopp needs a result on Tyneside.

The German coach rotated against the Baggies and he looks likely to tinker again to keep his options fresh with James Milner and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain potential starters in this one.

As for the hosts, Steve Bruce’s selection plans are still be governed by an ongoing Covid-19 outbreak at the club.

Jamal Lascelles and Allan Saint-Maximin are still sidelined for the Magpies, but Bruce can recall Callum Wilson and Jeff Hendrick.

And it’ll be a late start to complete this round of Premier League action with an 8pm kick off at St. James’ Park on December 30th.

Premier League: Manchester City 2-0 Newcastle United

Gundogan put Pep Guardiola’s side ahead on a wet Boxing Day night after fine work from Raheem Sterling with 14 minutes gone at the Etihad Stadium.

Torres added the second early in the second half and Bernardo Silva struck the post as City, who face a trip to Everton on Monday, eased to victory.

Both sides were without key players following positive Covid-19 tests, with City’s Gabriel Jesus and Kyle Walker following Newcastle pair Allan Saint-Maximin and Jamaal Lascelles into self-isolation.

Not surprisingly, it was star-studded City who coped with the absences better. Again manager Pep Guardiola saw no need to rush record goalscorer, Sergio Aguero, into his starting line-up, naming the Argentinian on the bench as he eases back into action after knee trouble.

Steve Bruce tried to shake his Newcastle side up after their Carabao Cup quarter-final loss to Brentford. Federico Fernandez, Fabian Schar, Joelinton and Matt Ritchie came in while Callum Wilson was on the bench and Jonjo Shelvey was left out altogether.

With the win, Pep Guardiola’s side climb to 5th in the league table on Monday night whilst Steve Bruce’s Newcastle remain just shy of mid-table in 12th.

Premier League Preview: Manchester City v Newcastle United

Pep Guardiola’s side have quietly been rediscovering their best form in the last month and the Spanish boss finally looks to have hit on winning formula this season.

However, despite being in the middle of their best run of the campaign, the demands of a packed schedule means he will be forced to rotate against the Magpies.

Pep’s defence should stay the same over the festive period but the returning Fernandinho, Phil Foden and Sergio Aguero could be drafted in.

As for Newcastle, Steve Bruce will continue to wing in terms of his line up with a Covid-19 outbreak at the club still forcing his selection.

Key pair Allan Saint-Maximin and Jamal Lascelles remain sidelined due to the virus.

But Federico Fernandez and Jamal Lewis should shake off knocks in time to start.

And Kick Off is a late one on Boxing Day with an 8pm start at the Etihad Stadium.