Most Premier League clubs would have parted company with their manager after suffering a 3-0 defeat to relegation rivals, however this wasn’t the case at Newcastle United after their thrashing at Brighton & Hove Albion.
This result left The Magpies perilously close to the relegation zone and left virtually all Toon fans calling for Steve Bruce to go.
However, since that embarrassment at the Amex Stadium, United have lost just one of their following six matches, that coming against Arsenal at the start of May.
Their most recent match at Leicester City showed just how much improvement had been made since the defeat on the South Coast as they cruised to a 4-2 victory against the Champions League chasing Foxes.
A few things have changed since the Brighton loss, but just what has made the difference for Bruce’s men?
A change of system
It was the arrival of new coach Graeme Jones that introduced that 4-4-2 midfield diamond set-up used against The Seagulls in March.
That system had worked well for a spell and actually saw an upturn in form in the new year after a run where Newcastle simply could not buy a win.
For whatever reason, it didn’t work at all against Albion but, in truth, the players hardly helped themselves that Saturday night.
Since then, a wing-back system has been deployed by the Newcastle coaching staff, and this coincides with the change in fortunes which has now seen The Magpies safe for another season with relegation confirmed with games to spare for Sheffield United, West Bromwich Albion and Fulham.
It’s not just the system which has changed as the players’ attitude is also much improved since that sorry showing at the Amex.
Vital points have been gained against strong opposition in Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham United, Liverpool and Leicester, whilst a crucial win has also come against Burnley.
The Arsenal defeat was a minor blip in this run of fixtures but whatever was said in the aftermath of the Brighton loss has certainly worked and perhaps the squad finally realised that were well and truly in a relegation fight at the time.
Goals are back
Scoring goals on a consistent basis has been an issue for Newcastle since their return to the top-flight in 2018.
Their success under Rafa Benitez came thanks to a solid defence which enabled them to grind out wins in the tightest of games thanks to their mostly reliable back line.
Even Joelinton has two goals in this mini unbeaten run!
Callum Wilson’s return from injury has also been a welcome boost, and he was in fine form at the King Power Stadium last Friday night. Typically, he will now miss the remainder of the season as his dreaded hamstring injury returns once more.
Praise has to be given
It’s fair to say that Steve Bruce isn’t every Newcastle fan’s cup of tea, but something has definitely been done behind the scenes to turn the club’s fortunes around.
Supporters will never really know how the post-Brighton inquest panned out and who said what to give the players a much needed kick up the backside and reality check, but it has certainly worked and has seen The Magpies over the line for another season of Premier League football.