NEWCASTLE UNITED return to action at Wolves on Sunday with Steve Bruce coming under increased pressure to adapt his side’s outlook in the wake of last weekend’s 4-1 home defeat to Manchester United.

The Magpies were accused of being too conservative and defensive as they crashed to their heaviest home defeat for six years – what could Bruce do to change things at Molineux?


Miguel Almiron’s lack of involvement since the start of the season has been puzzling. The Paraguayan has started just one league game – the 1-1 draw at Tottenham – despite being Newcastle’s most creative player for much of last term.

In the last couple of matches, Bruce has opted to field Joelinton in an attacking role ahead of Almiron, but Newcastle’s record signing barely touched the ball against Manchester United and appears to have reverted to type after a couple of more promising displays.

Last season, the Magpies were at their best when Almiron and Allan Saint-Maximin were combining to trouble opposition defences. It is surely time to get them back in the team together supporting Callum Wilson.


Almiron is not the only player whose lack of involvement in the first five league games has been a surprise. Ryan Fraser’s summer move from Bournemouth was regarded as something of a coup for the Magpies, but the Scotsman is yet to start a Premier League game in black-and-white.

With Isaac Hayden struggling after damaging his hamstrings in the defeat to Manchester United, the time looks right for a midfield reshuffle that will afford Fraser a place in the starting side.

The summer signing has looked lively when coming on as a substitute, and his presence in the starting line-up would increase Newcastle’s pace and incision in the final third, attributes that have been lacking in a number of their matches so far.


As well as shuffling his personnel, Bruce should also be changing his players’ general outlook at Molineux. Jamaal Lascelles caused eyebrows to raise earlier this week when he suggested Newcastle had been ‘too gung-ho’ in the closing stages against Manchester United – most supporters want them to be far more adventurous than they have been.

When the likes of Everton, Aston Villa, Leicester and Leeds have achieved notable results this season by playing on the front foot and taking risks, why is Bruce’s Newcastle side so steadfastly conservative? Why does containment appear to be the Magpies’ preferred policy when the general trend of play in the Premier League is moving away from a safety-first approach?

Rather than sitting deep and inviting teams on to them, it is time for Newcastle’s players to start pressing much higher up the field. That would enable them to take the initiative in games and be proactive rather than reactive, as has been the case too often under Bruce. The Newcastle boss keeps saying he wants to alter his side’s approach – it is time for him to start living up to his words.


Linked to Newcastle’s general approach is the more specific way in which Bruce tends to use his full-backs. Most of the Magpies’ top-flight rivals use their full-backs as a way of sparking attacks. Think of Andy Robertson, Timothy Castagne, Ben Chilwell or Sergio Reguilon, and your eye is drawn to what they do in attack rather than the quality of their defensive work.

Jamal Lewis has all the attributes to be a modern attacking full-back. He is quick, athletic and comfortable in possession, yet it is hard to think of too many occasions this season when he has strayed into the final third, yet alone delivered a telling cross or shot.

Javier Manquillo is less naturally attacking, but he would also be capable of making an impact on the overlap if granted the freedom to do so. Bruce seems to regard his full-backs as defenders first, attackers second, but that attitude is depriving his side of a potentially important threat.