There were positives from Newcastle’s performance at Old Trafford on Sunday night. The intensity was there at the start and Newcastle frustrated Manchester United for much of the first half as well as a slice of the second.
However, following an early stint in the Manchester United end after the break, the Red Devils slowly churned their way into the ascendency. Joelinton, who was playing well, succumbed to a knock and was forced off. Soon after Daniel James grabbed the goal to put the Red Devils in a lead they had no intentions of relinquishing.
Newcastle had little on reserve to alter the turn of events. The match played out as we’ve seen too often this season, with the lads unable to mount a charge in the final stages. Manchester United added a penalty that extinguished any thoughts of a result.
An encouraging first 50 minutes ultimately ended with another pedestrian defeat. Our next match against Wolves looms even larger on the horizon. A defeat at St. James’ Park next Saturday and we could be in the bottom three if Fulham beat Crystal Palace on Sunday.
Steve Bruce was asked about the desperate situation Newcastle find themselves in after failing to get anything from trips to Chelsea and Manchester United while Fulham picked up 7 points. The Northern Echo has published the following response:
“There’s six or seven teams in and around it with 13 games to go. I’m sure there’s a few looking over the shoulders, and of course we’re one of them.
“But I’m still quietly confident that we’ll be fine – if we keep performing like we did for the first hour. It was always going to be difficult going to Chelsea away and then Man United away, but I’ve been pleased with certain aspects of it.
“I thought we played really well for an hour. They got a goal just at the right time, and then another one just after half-time. The first goal, I’m sure we can defend better. The second one, we got a horrible deflection that took it into the path of James.
“We’re disappointed, but I can take a lot of positives from it, especially our performance in the first hour. There were large periods I was pleased with, but we have to put the whole thing together and get a few results, of course.”
It’s hard to believe that Bruce is really this nonchalant about our current situation. He’s got to be concerned that this season has been transformed into a perfect storm for relegation.
His answer is pragmatic and shows no hint of panic. Which is probably what you’d want from your head coach. However, there are a fair few fans who will question if he really grasps the gravity of this situation.
Hopefully, he does. Hopefully, he means what he says. Getting points at Stamford Bridge and Old Trafford was always going to be a tough ask. For about 100 minutes across two matches, this squad showed they can be a very good side.
However, it’s the remaining 80 minutes that raise a massive red flag. This team and this season have given Newcastle fans no reason to be optimistic despite Bruce’s assertions that everything will work out in the end.
There is still a third of the season to go and the lads have played better recently. So we’ll give that to Bruce. But wins are crucial at this stage and picking them up will be our only path to survival. Playing well for an hour or so while coming up empty-handed is just not going to keep Newcastle out of the bottom three.