In an exclusive interview with Football FanCast, former Newcastle defender Steve Howey was shocked to see Steve Bruce’s defensive approach to the game against West Bromwich Albion.
Howey did try to look at the 0-0 draw in a positive way and acknowledged that the Magpies didn’t get beaten, which saw them keep their heads above the bottom three despite Fulham’s win at Anfield.
Despite being without his two top scorers in Callum Wilson and Miguel Almiron, Bruce opted for going without a recognised striker. Instead, he opted to play Joe Willock as a false nine.
Newcastle had both Dwight Gayle and Andy Carroll on the bench, with the latter coming on for a cameo that lasted less than one minute when the team were locked at 0-0 with the 19th-placed Baggies.
Howey admits he was surprised by Bruce’s decision but was pleasantly proved wrong for the first 15 minutes when Newcastle had a number of chances via Ryan Fraser and Joelinton.
The former defender told FFC how he expected Bruce to set up differently against a bottom three side.
He said: “I was kind of surprised by the way the manager set up, but that’s his prerogative.
“In all fairness, it kind of semi worked for the first 15 minutes. I was covering the game for sky yesterday, and Newcastle had chances, they had chances.
“Obviously, you didn’t want to get beat but at the same time, I think they’ve only won three games and they’ve struggled to score goals.
“So, whilst on social media, I kind of put the positive spin that I can put on which was the fact that we didn’t get three points, but neither did they.”
It appeared to be a must-win game for Newcastle, however, Bruce’s pragmatic approach earned the Magpies a point which kept them out of the bottom three.
Newcastle now face Aston Villa and Brighton & Hove Albion before the international break which could turn out to be a crucial period for both manager and club.