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.

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.

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.

Premier League: Newcastle United v Fulham

It’s hard to tell which Newcastle side will turn up when kick-off arrives, with the Geordies having won three and lost three of their last six league games in contrasting performances.

Morale-boosting wins over Everton, Crystal Palace and West Brom have been paired with damaging defeats against Southampton and Chelsea, while they were soundly beaten 5-2 by Leeds United in midweek.

Meanwhile, Fulham have shown improvement in their last four games, taking five points as Scott Parker’s squad shows signs of gelling ahead of a tight relegation battle.

Once upon a time, Parker plied his trade as a player at Newcastle and will be making his first visit to St James’ Park as a boss, and will have former Newcastle striker Aleksandar Mitrovic to try and grind out a result with. Mitrovic has lost his place in the Fulham team in recent weeks though, with Ivan Cavaleiro leading the line instead.

Newcastle’s current crop of strikers have been led by the impressive Callum Wilson this season. The former Bournemouth man already has seven goals to his name this year, one more than Newcastle’s top scorer from last season managed.

That player was Jonjo Shelvey, who may return to the starting lineup after being an unused substitute in the defeat to Leeds on Wednesday.

Shelvey’s influence will be important if Newcastle are to keep the ball more than they have been recently. The Geordies have the lowest average possession of any Premier League team, and have never had more than 48% of the ball in any league game so far this season.

As far as team news goes, Steve Bruce’s defensive ranks are still recovering from the worst of their recent COVID outbreaks. Newcastle only had one fit centre-back against West Brom, but welcomed back Federico Fernandez against Leeds. Jamaal Lascelles, Fabian Schar and Javi Manquillo all missed the loss and are likely to continue their spell on the sidelines when Fulham visit.

Martin Dubravka was scheduled to be back from an ankle injury recently but hasn’t been part of a squad yet, so Karl Darlow will continue in goal, while Paul Dummett is another one missing for a longer period. Allan Saint-Maximin has missed three games with a calf injury but could make the squad.

Fulham have a smaller injury quota to deal with, with only Terence Kongolo definitely out. Bobby Reid came off during the draw with Brighton with a knock and will be assessed, while Kenny Tete is also a doubt as he continues to build match fitness after injury.

A win for Newcastle would put more daylight between themselves and the bottom five, and could move them to the brink of the top ten if other results favour them, while Fulham will be hoping to go above Brighton before they play on Sunday.

Newcastle United take on Fulham at St James’ Park on Saturday, 19th of December. Kick-off is at 8pm.

Premier League Preview: Newcastle United v West Brom

Slaven Bilic’s team have only racked up one win on their top-flight return and a 5-1 thrashing at Crystal Palace last time out will have dented confidence.

Matheus Pereira is definitely out after he was sent off against Palace with Hal Robson-Kanu and Connor Townsend both ruled out with injury.

Dara O’Shea is likely to replace Branislav Ivanovic in defence with Callum Robinson also in line to make a rare start.

For Newcastle, Steve Bruce’s hand will be forced Covid-19 regulations, with the Magpies squad still decimated by players in self isolation.

Bruce has confirmed he will have to wait until the last minute to name a starting team against the Baggies with up to eight players set to miss out.

But it was not all negative news for Bruce, as key pair Ryan Fraser and Allan Saint-Maximin returned to training this week, and the former Manchester United defender has confirmed they will be included after returning negative Covid-19 tests.

And Kick Off is set for 3pm tomorrow at St. James’ Park