This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Newcastle signed local lad Andy Carroll on Thursday, and the manager who once proclaimed “I’m not really into tactics” may now have all the tools to play the good old-fashioned 4-4-2.
It is not known what formation Bruce will play in his debut campaign on Tyneside. The former Sheffield Wednesday boss has varied his tactics in pre-season, testing a three-at-the-back similar to Rafael Benitez’s, while also deploying a 4-5-1, or effectively a 4-2-3-1.
However, looking back to an article from The Guardian way back in 2011, in which the famous “not really into tactics” quote surfaced, the Magpies boss is described as “unashamedly old school” and unable to influence the game tactically.
With that in mind, the arrival of the 6 foot 4 Carroll has us wondering if Bruce has his sights set on an “unashamedly old school” style of play, once Carroll is fully fit.
A traditional target man and a skilful speedster, one little one large, it’s the classic centre-forward one-two punch.
Think Emile Heskey and Michael Owen, Jermain Defoe and Peter Crouch, or even Carroll himself together with Luis Suarez during their time at Liverpool.
In Sean Longstaff and Jonjo Shelvey, Bruce has two tough-tackling midfielders with good work rates and an eye for a pass. In Allan Saint-Maximin and Miguel Almiron he has two wingers with the pace to burn past defenders and whip balls into the box.
And now, with the arrival of Carroll, he has the perfect target man to partner Joelinton in a 4-4-2.
Joelinton also has uniquely well-rounded capabilities with and without the ball though, bearing a striking resemblance to Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino, dribbling, creating and dropping into space, as well as pitching in with goals.
Pairing the 22 year-old up with Carroll then seems a no-brainer. Carroll is power personified, while his new partner in crime does a little bit of everything, and both of them know how to get on the scoresheet.
We’ve had Wenger-ball. We’ve had Sarri-ball. Is it time the Premier League’s most “unashamedly old school” manager brings us Bruce-ball?