This article is part of Football FanCast’s Pundit View series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent quotes from journalists, pundits, players and managers…
BBC Sport pundit Alan Shearer has backed Newcastle United boss Steve Bruce to turn things around at St. James’ Park after a mixed start to life in the Magpies dugout, but says that investment in January will be needed.
Bruce has overseen nine competitive fixtures across all competitions since taking up the vacant head coach position on Tyneside in the summer but has only managed to win two of those.
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The Magpies’ performances in league defeats to Norwich City and Leicester City were particularly hard to swallow for United icon Shearer, as his former side were picked apart defensively by the reigning Championship title-holders in August in a 3-1 defeat, before later being trounced 5-0 at the King Power Stadium by the Foxes.
Both defeats came before shock wins, however, with Bruce able to orchestrate victories over last season’s Champions League finalists Tottenham Hotspur and Europa League hopefuls Manchester United.
If Bruce can continue to build on those results and sees players return to fitness and stay match sharp, Shearer is convinced he can be the man to guide Newcastle back up the Premier League standings.
The former striker has conceded that investment in January will likely be needed, however.
Speaking to the Chronicle, Shearer said:
“It’s been a mixture [of results]. I mean, there have been some poor performances – Norwich away and Leicester away were terrible. Then you look at Tottenham and Man United. There’s something in there to work with.
“If you can keep the majority of the squad fit, then I think they’ll do all right. Then if you look at investment in January, and hopefully that’ll come as well.
“I think it was a huge relief to everyone, including Steve, who I was delighted for, because he’s had to put up with a lot of **** over the last couple of weeks.”
Beating Manchester United before the international break will certainly have come as a huge relief to Newcastle and particularly Bruce like Shearer claims, but the Magpies need to strive for consistency instead of merely celebrating the occasional surprise result.
Games against the likes of Norwich, Brighton & Hove Albion and Watford should be the sort of league ties Newcastle see as their best route of putting points on the board, but they demonstrated little in any of those clashes to suggest they will be doing so anytime soon. Indeed, they drew 0-0 with Brighton and 1-1 with the Hornets.
The Brighton display was particularly worrisome for Newcastle, as they allowed the Seagulls to enjoy most of the possession at St. James’ Park, and were arguably fortunate to take a point after Graham Potter’s visitors squandered the majority of their 16 efforts on goal, per WhoScored data.
Upcoming games with Wolves, West Ham and Bournemouth after travelling to Chelsea, then, are vital if Shearer’s words are to be heeded.