Brighton defeat summed up just how bleak it is to be a Newcastle fan right now

21 March 2021 08:30

By the time Brighton scored their third goal against Newcastle on Saturday, Steve Bruce's face had turned a shade of pink that is only found in the premium section of the Dulux colour chart.

This was not due to the south coast sunshine either. Bruce's pigmentation was instead caused by a lethal cocktail of frustration, anguish and hopelessness.

Many Magpies fans want Bruce sacked | Michael Steele/Getty Images

Observing his side on Saturday evening, there was no way he could feel any different. The Magpies' display was, to put it mildly, a complete disgrace.

This was their chance to prove they have what it takes to stay in the Premier League this season. The two sides went into the game separated by a single point, with Newcastle just two clear of safety. Despite these high stakes, they played with all the intensity of a perennially stoned teenager. In the first ten minutes alone they conceded three shots and enjoyed a shade over 15% possession. Things only got worse for Brucey's boys as well.

After somehow weathering the Brighton storm for most of the first period, they finally conceded on the stroke of half-time when Leandro Trossard bent one past Martin Dubravka from the edge of the box.

A Danny Welbeck screamer and a poacher's finish from Neal Maupay then wrapped up an emphatic 3-0 victory for the Seagulls after the break. As this slaughter was taking place, Newcastle could only muster three attempts of their own, recording an embarrassing xG of 0.1. At that rate, Bruce's Magpies could have played for 900 minutes before they eventually found the back of the net.

In truth, it was hard to see exactly what Newcastle were trying to accomplish for much of the game. Sat back in a narrow, deep block they finished the game with 35% possession and their attempts to feed the front three rarely came off.

It has been a similar story for much of Bruce's reign. The best way to describe Newcastle this season is as a defensive team that are useless at defending. As well as registering the second lowest possession per game in the division, only three teams have conceded more Premier League goals than them this term: West Brom, Sheffield United and Southampton. One of these sides lost 9-0 earlier in the season, while the other two will be playing Championship football next year.

Ryan Fraser has been poor this season | Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

On current evidence it is hard to imagine Newcastle not joining them either. Fulham's defeat to Leeds on Friday night means they have not managed to overtake the Magpies yet, but after the Brighton performance it's hard to see where their next points are coming from.

Their lack of results is only half of the problem, though. Putting all the off-field nonsense to one side, another reason why the Brighton result stung so badly for Newcastle fans is that Graham Potter represents the antithesis of Bruce as a manager. Young, innovative and positive in his playing style, it has not always worked out for his team this season but at least there has always been some semblance of pleasure for fans to cling onto.

This has not been the case for the St James' Park faithful. Instead, the team with the seventh highest attendances in the division - in normal times, of course - have been reduced to two bland banks of four who hoof it up to Callum Wilson in the hope he makes something happen.

Mike Ashley is unlikely to sack Bruce in order to save the club some money | Pool/Getty Images

In other words they are joyless, and a football team without joy, without hope, without excitement, particularly at a time as bleak as this, is entirely pointless.

Source: 90min