They do say a leopard never changes its spots, and that arguably doesn’t ring any truer than for Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce.
The veteran boss has been in the business for more than a couple of decades now, and clearly has his way of managing and style of play built up over the years.
So even despite the Magpies’ attacking struggles this season – they have managed a shocking ten goals in nine Premier League games – it was no surprise that the two-week international break didn’t result in anything different on Saturday afternoon against Chelsea.
It was simply more of the same drab football that has undoubtedly sent Newcastle fans to either sleep or meltdown. As things stand, the Magpies rank bottom for shots on goal (eight per game), shots on target (2.3 per game), and third-worst for possession (41.9%).
The pressure has surely gone up a notch on Bruce, but according to Luke Edwards’ latest update on the Newcastle boss, that may not actually be the case.
It’s suggested that despite the growing fan unrest, Bruce retains the full backing of the Newcastle hierarchy, and that both Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley are “far more appreciate” of the work he has done amid cuts to the transfer budget.
Sure, the club’s failed takeover meant there was no massive warchest or £100m plus spending splurge over the summer. But they did manage to bring in some very shrewd, exciting additions in the likes of Callum Wilson, Ryan Fraser and Jamal Lewis. All Premier League proven, and capable of playing in teams who play front-football given their respective history with Bournemouth and Norwich.
What Bruce has done is shackle Newcastle’s attacking talent into his structure, and not the other way. If the argument before was that the Magpies just didn’t have the players to play more offensively, then that has gone out of the window with their recent additions.
The likes of Wilson, Fraser, Miguel Almiron and Allan Saint-Maximin all have pace, energy and movement. Everything the Premier League is completely set up for. Bruce’s stubbornness and unwillingness to change are costing Newcastle big time. And the fact Ashley is on board with everything is only setting the club up for yet more misery.