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MOTD2 analysis

There’s been plenty of talk about how Newcastle need to copy Manchester City’s blueprint to turn themselves into a superpower in the next few years.

First things first, though, they need to do what City did to dig themselves out of relegation trouble the season they were taken over by their Abu Dhabi owners in 2008.

City had rushed through the signing of Robinho in September but were in the bottom three at Christmas. They went out in January and bought Nigel de Jong, Craig Bellamy, Wayne Bridge and Shay Given.

Newcastle don’t need a new keeper but those sort of established players and characters are exactly what they need in their situation now.

Whenever I watch them, I feel they need much more quality in defensive areas to give them a better foundation, and another reliable goalscorer because Callum Wilson misses a lot of games.

Snapshot of the bottom of the Premier League: 15th Southampton, 16th Watford, 17th Leeds, 18th Newcastle, 19th Burnley, 20th Norwich
Newcastle have not won in the league this season

Getting the right players in January is not going to be easy though, especially because they are almost certainly going to be in a relegation battle then. They might have to use loans to get the people they want to come to the club.

Up front, a striker with pace like Bellamy who has scored goals in the Premier League would be ideal. Bridge was a solid full-back, reliable defensively and could get forward well too, while De Jong was a winner in the middle of the park, with a great mentality.

Finding those type of players is not going to be easy, and they will not come cheap – those four signings cost City about £50m in total, and that was 13 years ago.

One thing is certain, though. Newcastle are going to have to spend if they want to be sure of staying up – their defeat by Tottenham on Sunday was a reminder of that.

New era, same old Newcastle

Graphic showing Newcastle's starting XI v Tottenham: Darlow, Manquillo, Lascelles, Clark, Ritchie, Hayden, Saint-Maximin, Willock, Longstaff, Joelinton, Wilson

Newcastle may have new owners but there was nothing different about the way they lost to Spurs.

A consistent theme for the Magpies this season has been for them to start games well and on the front foot – and then capitulate.

It was the same on Sunday: they began by playing with high energy and pressing Spurs. That got the fans on board and with the early goal it was all going brilliantly.

It was exactly what they would have wanted in their first game under the new regime, but they could not adapt as the game progressed and it all unravelled.

Steve Bruce’s side were particularly poor defensively, and made some really bad decisions and basic errors.

They showed again against Spurs that they can make chances – they look a threat when they go forward, especially when Wilson is in the team.

But while they are so open at the back and conceding so many goals, they are not going to win games and climb out of trouble.

What went wrong against Spurs?

Graphic showing Tottenham's starting XI v Newcastle: Lloris, Emerson, Romero, Dier, Reguilon, Hojbjerg, Skipp, Moura, Ndombele, Heung-min, Kane

It was a no-win situation for Bruce against Spurs, because the crowd expected an attack-minded and energetic performance to match the occasion and the party atmosphere at St James’ Park.

That was exactly what they got for the first 15 minutes but when you do that, and follow the crowd’s desires against a team with the counter-attacking ability that Spurs have got, you are going to end up in a world of trouble.

I was watching with James McFadden for MOTD2 and when Wilson scored early on I said to him that, the way Newcastle are set up, Tottenham are going to score at least two and win this game.

Spurs were always going to get goals because there was so much space behind the Newcastle back four. It was just a matter of time before they made it count, and it was not through any amazing play either.

Once Nuno Espirito Santo’s side had weathered the early storm, they realised that they didn’t have to play through Newcastle, they could just go long with simple balls over the top.

That’s what got them their first goal, as good a strike as it was by Tanguy Ndombele, because the Magpies back four was keeping a high line when their midfielders were pressing Spurs, and was not dropping back when there was no pressure on the ball.

It was naive to leave so much space against a team that loves playing on the counter, and it was especially concerning because it was something so easily fixable.

Bruce has failed to find the right balance

Newcastle United 2-3 Tottenham Hotspur: I’ll carry on until I hear otherwise – Bruce

One of Bruce’s issues since he took charge in 2019 has been finding a balance between looking like Newcastle are having a go in games, and getting results.

Like his predecessor Rafa Benitez, some of his best results and periods as Magpies manager have come when he has set up his side to be hard to beat.

The problem with doing that is the fans demand more of an attacking approach, because some of those pragmatic performances that get you points are awful to watch.

Everyone wants to play nice football and to go out to try to score goals, but you need to be able to stay in games or see them out as well, and at the moment Newcastle have got the balance all wrong – they are too much on the front foot.

Clearly there was nothing wrong with the way they started against Spurs, but they could not change momentum to try to protect their lead and at no stage did they look in control of the game. You could see why they are second bottom of the table, and without a win this season.

How do the Magpies put things right?

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I think Bruce’s time as manager is almost up. He is going to go, it is just a matter of when.

But Newcastle can’t change any of their players until the January transfer window opens, so until then it is going to be a case of their fans getting behind the team the best they can.

There is plenty of motivation for the current squad too. Most footballers have big egos, so a lot of those players will be thinking they are good enough to be part of this new chapter at the club.

They are going to want to show that to the new owners and whoever the new manager is, when that change happens. So, moving forwards, you are going to see people upping their performances, even though that didn’t happen against Spurs.

Even factoring that in, however, the new faces still can’t arrive quickly enough.

Danny Murphy was speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.

Source: BBC

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