Steve Bruce is still tipped to be one of the next Premier League managers to get the axe. This comes following Newcastle United’s dramatic 4-2 home defeat against West Ham United. The Magpies played some quality football, but threw away their lead against the Hammers to start their Premier League campaign in a sadly familiar style.
The result has once again raised big questions about whether Bruce is the right man for the job. The 60-year old was never made to feel especially welcome at St James’ Park, and for many, he’s just acting as a stop-gap before Mike Ashley brings in a bigger name manager.
By looking to the rating of many bookmakers featured at betting resources, we can see that the bookies have Bruce down just behind the likes of Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta and Crystal Palace’s Patrick Vieira to be the next Premier League manager to get the sack. So what would it take for the Newcastle boss to turn his fortunes around?
Chance of Joe Willock to shine
Few people would underestimate the impact that Joe Willock had when he arrived on loan from Arsenal toward the tail-end of the 2019/20 season. The 21-year old scored record-breaking seven goals in seven games since arriving at St James’ Park, and effectively rescued Newcastle from getting dragged into a relegation battle. As such, getting Willock’s signature was essential business during the summer transfer period.
Thankfully, the Newcastle boardroom finally came to their senses, and last week saw Willock signing a permanent deal with the Magpies for £25 million. The striker was given a rapturous welcome by the St James’ Park faithful last weekend, and he’ll carry a weight of expectation that he can continue where he left off at the end of last season.
Plus the fact that Callum Wilson looks back to fine goalscoring form means that Newcastle shouldn’t have too much of a problem in hitting the back of the net this time around. It’s a remarkable turnaround given Newcastle’s barren run of goals last season.
With the likes of Joelinton suffering an inexplicable inability to score, it was little wonder that the Magpies found themselves slipping down to the lower reaches of the Premier League table. But with Willock and Wilson being joined by the irrepressible likes of Miguel Almiron, it’s hoped that there might be a fair few goals at St James’ Park this year.
Big problems for Bruce to fix
Of course, no 21-year player like Joe Willock is going to be enough to save an entire team. Newcastle have been stuck in a downward spiral for a few years now, and much of this has been blamed on the current club owner, Mike Ashley. Although he was willing to splash out the funds necessary to get Willock to sign, it’s hard to see many more big money signings turning up any time soon.
Perhaps this is a good thing, as previous expensive transfers such as that of Joelinton haven’t exactly worked out according to plan. As such it’s no surprise that Bruce has already got his soundbites ready stating that his job is to, ‘improve us,’ rather than relying on new signings to improve the squad.
However, there are still ongoing rumours that Newcastle could be willing to sign another striker in the form of Santiago Munoz. The 18-year old currently plays for the Mexican club Santos Laguna, and his addition would go some way to countering the accusation that Bruce’s team played overly defensive football for most of last season.
If anything, it could be Newcastle’s defensive frailties that require the greatest attention. Getting hit for four at home by a team like West Ham doesn’t bode well, and with no plans to bring in any extra defenders, it could be a torrid few months for Bruce and the Toon Army.