What changes should Steve Bruce make to turn the tide on Tyneside?
Photo Credit: Newcastle United/Getty Images

There will have been very few Newcastle United fans that were left surprised by the thrashing at Elland Road, as it has been coming for a while now. 

In fact, the only people who were probably surprised when they went to check the full time score, are the majority of pundits who seem intent on labelling Steve Bruce as some sort of messiah.

Marcelo Bielsa's brand of high pressing, attacking football was far too much for Bruce's passive stand-offish style that we have been forced to become accustom to.

Bruce claimed that his side "gave as good as they got until the last 12 minutes." in the 5-2 defeat which is either a blatant lie or perhaps it is more worrying that there's a chance he genuinely believed it.

The Magpies were out classed, out ran and out thought on Wednesday night and the stats paint that picture; the Toon had 10 shots to Leeds' 25 and had just 31% of the ball.

With Bruce looking very likely to be Head Coach for the foreseeable future at Tyneside, what should he do to change things up?

  • Play Gayle up top with Wilson

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Whilst it may seem harsh to drop Joelinton, who is arguably on his best run since becoming the club's record transfer, Bruce should bring Dwight Gayle into the mix to play alongside the in form Callum Wilson.

Gayle is a goalscorer who finished the 2019/20 season strongly before picking up an injury before the start of this season.

He showcased what he can do by marking his return to the side with a superb winning goal against his former club West Bromwich Albion.

The forward's movement is his best attribute and he looks to work the channels constantly, he also seems to usually be on the same wavelength as Jonjo Shelvey who is likely to play more often than not.

Gayle thinks and moves like a striker, he knows where to be and when to go. This is something that the Magpies' £40m man does not have in his arsenal.

Furthermore, at Bournemouth, Wilson was mostly utilised in a front two so he is used to building partnerships with other strikers and having Gayle up top with him means he will have less work to do up there.

Bruce has often put on record his admiration for Gayle and has stated that he has tried to sign the striker before so don't be surprised if we see a front two of Wilson and Gayle soon.

  • Use attacking options more effectively 

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Newcastle's attacking players have not lived up to their potential under Bruce's stewardship.

It is not rare for United to lack players and depth at that end of the pitch and has often led to the side looking lacklustre going forward.

Bruce DOES now have good, exciting players in the ranks now but watching Newcastle is still mostly a chore.

The likes of Miguel Almiron and Allan Saint-Maximin best sum this up.

Both players have shown undeniable flashes of quality in the last season and a half but as a fan you still get the impression that they are capable of so much more than we usually see.

What can Bruce do to change this?

Playing them in their right positions would be a good start. Almiron has played a plethora of positions in his limited amount of game time this season and has been asked at times to operate in a deeper role which completely puts his attacking flair to waste.

Similarly, United's exciting Frenchmen is yet to really get going this season and has been used in a more central role rather than out wide.

  • Play a more expansive style of football

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To be clear, by saying this I am not suggesting that Newcastle should be capable of producing a second set of 'Entertainers', but they have to do more.

Not only are they painful to watch in their current form but the tactic of sitting back and hoping for the best clearly doesn't work.

Newcastle concede an average of over 16 shots per match and average less than nine at the other end.

It is surely a fair comment to make that if yo, on average have a lot more shots on your goal than you have on the oppositions, you are likely to get beat regularly.

Just twice in 12 games have the Magpies had more shots than the opposition and they are yet to have more possession in a game.

Karl Darlow has made the second most saves in the division and has had to be be relied on far too often already this season.

The Corbridge born gaffer has often used the phrase "work in progress" to describe his side but 18 months on and progress has been non existent.

Giving his side a bit more creative freedom could have a knock on effect at the other end of the pitch too as the defence and goalkeeper are less likely to be bombarded with shots and crosses if United could look to create some chances of their own on a more regular basis.

Newcastle welcome relegation strugglers to St. James' Park next and this is surely a good time to get on the front foot and test out a shaky defence.

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