Steve Bruce's Newcastle United tactics 
NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 23: Newcastle United Head Coach Steve Bruce during the Newcastle United Training Session at the Newcastle United Training Centre on October 23, 2020 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images)

Since his appointment in July 2019, Steve Bruce has had a turmoil both inside and outside his office. The Newcastle United Bruce inherited from Rafa Benitez was defensive in nature and built entirely for counter-attacking football. The two summers since have seen 60 million and a new six-year deal all gone to the attacking future of Bruce's magpies. 

Bruce wants trust

When analysing teams and how they tactically should line up is always tricky, and something Bruce has commented on before stating his problems with "keyboard warriors" telling an experienced coach how to do his job. 

"I never, ever read [the comments]. I hear now and again but, as I've said, with management, everybody's got a platform, everybody's got an opinion – keyboard warriors or whatever you call them.

"Are they the majority of supporters? I doubt it. The job's difficult enough without having to worry about all that nonsense."


Bruce came out against the internet and a small group of fans telling him to play more attacking football back in October. 

Getting the best of this Newcastle United side is always somethings fans think as an easy job. However, it is easy to see what this team is built for. Counter-attacking football.

The Jekyll-Hyde football team. 

Two teams are fighting inside one. Black and white, tying and yang, defensive and weak going forward, or brash and potent in an attacking sense. 

 With all of the wingers Newcastle possess, it should be a wing play-based counterattacking system with nothing but pace going forward and over the top balls being played into gaps. 

This is what Bruce has been doing to no avail.  So the head coach has swapped to the more straightforward approach Newcastle can play in their sleep of a five at the back-formation. 

Rafa Benitez's Newcastle team had its flaws that is a certainty. What the Spaniard did though was make players better. Bruce has not done this, that is for sure. 

In fact, this Newcastle team tactically has regressed since 2019. It looks from watching this team week in week out when plan a does not work, it is up to individual players to make the difference and change the game themselves. Which, of course, is great when it happens. The perfect example of this currently is Callum Wilson six goals this campaign. But when Wilson cannot get the ball or is left isolated, he looks lost and is never going to be able to change the game. Wilson has scored half of his goals this season from 12 yards out. 

Newcastle has not been lively going forward and is currently to the lowest team in the Premier League in terms of shots taken, and shots on target. Newcastle is first in four categories so far this season though, shots faced (129), on target faced shots (50), saves (37) and save percentage (76). 

But the team is safe and not in the relegation zone, why are fans upset?

They are bored first and foremost. 

How to change? 

Well, the easiest thing to do is change formation and stick with it, the favourite would be 4-3-3. This would allow Wilson through the middle Allan Saint-Maximin and Ryan Fraser on the wings. 3 midfielders with Jonjo Shelvey (when fit), Miguel Almiron, and Issac Hayden. With four at the back. 

But does that not open Newcastle up defensively, Yes, yes it does. Fans would love an all-out pressing team who run themselves into the ground sacrificing themselves for the team. 

This is not realistic though, so we go a 5-2-3. With wingbacks two holding midfielders passing balls over the top of defences and a counterattacking based pace system. 

This would allow Newcastle to sit back against most teams and allow them to come onto them. With half of the Premier League going with a high tempo press system it works on paper. 

A best of both worlds would suit Bruce and intelligent fans would understand why the head coach changes things up. Will it change? Only time will tell, but changing is not something Steve Bruce is known for.