Takeover Talk Overshadows Steve Bruce’s First Season in Charge of Newcastle United

Newcastle United

The talk of a lucrative takeover overshadowed much of Steve Bruce’s first season in charge of Newcastle United.

On the whole, it was a successful first season. Although he was not their first choice, Bruce steered the Magpies to a 13th place finish, after the season began with the talk of relegation.

He slowly won over the Geordie faithful, but the talk of a takeover overshadowed large parts of the season, meaning he subsequently fell out of favour.

A Successful First Season in Charge at Newcastle United for Steve Bruce

Tale of the Season

The fact that Newcastle achieved one less point last season than they did under the Rafa Benitez in the 2018/19 season goes largely unnoticed. Yes, at times it wasn’t pretty, but it was effective.

The season began in wayward fashion. Bruce’s side won just two of their opening ten games, drawing three and losing the other five.

However, they soon kicked into life, winning five of their next eight games, including wins away to West Ham United and Sheffield United.

Inconsistency, though, soon resumed. While they won just one of their next nine games, Bruce’s job remained intact due to the talk of an impending takeover.

The takeover talk perhaps distracted them following the three-month hiatus. As it looked more and more likely to happen, the Magpies form turned a horrendous corner, as they failed to win any of their last six games.

Defensively Strong Yet Weak in Attack

The fact that Miguel Almiron was Newcastle’s top scorer in all competitions despite not scoring his first goal for the club until December 2019 says a lot about their attack.

Attacking was not their strong point. At times, playing football was not their strong point – the Magpies did their hard grafting without the ball. Somehow though, it worked in their favour.

They were defensively resolute. Steve Bruce’s side spent large portions of the game without the ball, as they looked to invite sides onto them as they kept a deep and compact line.

The Magpies, unsurprisingly, without the ball averaged the least amount of position in the Premier League last season. However, their goals from counter-attacking situations Рa statistic that you would expect to be higher with less position Рdoes not correlate. Newcastle only scored two goals on the break.

Newcastle’s main attacking threat came from out wide in the shape of Allan Saint-Maximin. While his end product could at times be erratic, his enigmatic runs down the wings quickly won the hearts of those who occupy the Gallowgate end.

However, whenever crosses were successfully flung into the box, there was nobody to receive them. Joelinton, the £40 million man who promised so much, failed to live up to the hype. The Brazilian scored just two goals, both of which came at the opposite ends of the season.

A Cup Run That Nearly Began to Excite Newcastle Fans

In a city that lives and breathes football, Newcastle fans have become accustomed to not getting to far ahead of themselves.

As a result, when they reached the FA Cup quarter-final, there was a sense that hopes had been dashed. It would have taken a minor miracle to overcome Manchester City.

At times, though, there were thoughts that the Magpies could achieve something special. While it was a run that did not start well – they required replays against League One’s Rochdale and Oxford United – there was hope that overcoming them could lead to something greater.

After beating West Bromwich Albion, the draw was not kind to them. Drawing City is the mammoth task that no team wants on a cup run.

While they did hold out for 37 minutes, it was always going to be an uphill battle if they did not get the first goal.

As a result, Newcastle’s hopes for a long-awaited trophy continued to live on for another season.

Game of the Season – Newcastle United 1-0 Manchester United

The rafters of the Gallowgate End erupted and the rooftops lifted off; when that happens, you know something special has happened at St James’ Park.

Yes, there was the 4-1 demolition of Bournemouth, but this was special. Newcastle United were looking down and out before the season had kicked into life, until a local lad scored the only goal to overcome Manchester United.

It was Matty Longstaff’s debut, making it all the more special. As he rifled a shot into the bottom corner, he had the whole of the city focusing on him.

After a dismal start to the season – Newcastle had won just one game before the visit of United – the Geordies more than held their own against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side.

While they held the visitors of with a stunning defensive display, a characteristic that remained throughout much of the season, they matched them going forward. United were terrible defensively, and the Magpies could have easily scored more if they had found the target.

It may have only been a 1-0 win, but it was a win that was worked hard for, and one made all the more special by who scored the winning goal.

What to Expect Next Season?

Steve Bruce is going to have to be shrewd in the transfer market – he will not have the money that any potential takeover promised.

The Magpies will be dogged in their approach to games. They won’t look to attack teams with all guns blazing, but instead look to take their opportunities where they see fit.

Newcastle cannot let the disappoint of the takeover hang over their heads. They now have to move on and start afresh. If they don’t, and start the season the poorly, then trouble could lie ahead.

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