Steve Bruce watched on as twice his Newcastle United team led the Premier League champions.
A bit of a shame that this wasn’t the token NUFC home game of the season with fans inside St James Park as it was prime entertainment.
Instead of against top, it will be against the very bottom side, Sheffield United, that 10,000 Newcastle fans (if the club finally manage to sell them all…) will see their team play live for the first time in over 14 months.
Whilst possession was feeble (18%), what Newcastle United did with it wasn’t.
Steve Bruce finally releasing the shackles so that at last we saw numbers getting forward and into the box, when Newcastle counter-attacked. It was ironic that despite that Newcastle United scored no goals in open play, instead a header from a corner and two penalties (Willock needing a rebound to finish the second one) supplied the surprising three goals.
You have to go back to 2019 for the last time Man City conceded three in a Premier League match, surprisingly doing it three times in the opening half of last season, conceding three and losing to Norwich, Liverpool and Wolves.
Manchester City have got by far the best defence this season but Pep Guardiola gave Steve Bruce a chance by not playing it.
Set to be named Premier League player of the season, Dias was left out, as well as Laporte and Stones, whilst 35 year old Scott Carson was given the reward of his first Premier League start in ten years and it looked like it, the excellent Ederson also dropped to the bench. Garcia and especially Ake were woeful in the centre of the visiting defence and Walker reminded us yet again of what a poor defender he is, despite the positives he brings going forward.
Pep Guardiola gave every encouragement to Newcastle because as well as Aguero and De Bruyne also missing, the likes of Mahrez, Fernandinho and Foden also rested.
To their credit though Newcastle almost took advantage against this largely second string Manchester City and if Shelvey’s free-kick had hit the net instead of the woodwork and made it 2-0, the visitors may well have not made it a record breaking 12 PL away wins in a row.
As Newcastle fans are set to return to St James Park on Wednesday night, Steve Bruce declared after this defeat to Man City: ‘I’m prepared to work away at it and grow an even thicker skin.’
The NUFC Head Coach showing absolutely no indication that he is going to accept the will of the vast majority of the fanbase and resign.
Yes last night was a far better spectacle than normal under Steve Bruce but for that vast majority of Newcastle fans, it just sums up the fact that this NUFC squad is capable of far better than it has been allowed to be under the limited management ability of Bruce.
Steve Bruce speaking to BBC Sport:
“Overall, our attacking play was good on the counter-attack and we just weren’t quite good enough on the night.
“The biggest compliment I can pay them, is that it’s difficult to set up against them.
“There are large periods where you don’t get a kick because they’re so good in possession.”
On whether Newcastle can keep Joe Willock:
“We have to respect that Joe is Arsenal’s player but if it’s possible we’d love to keep him.”
On criticism this season:
“If you’re going to do the job in the Premier League you come in for criticism, sometimes it’s unjust.
“I always said when we had our players fit we’d be alright.
“I’m a football manager and I’ve been doing it a long time but I’m prepared to work away at it and grow an even thicker skin.”
Stats from BBC Sport:
Newcastle 3 Man City 4 – Friday 14 May 8pm
Krafth 25, Joelinton 45+6 pen, Willock 62
Cancelo 39, Torres 42, 64, 66
(Half-time stats in brackets)
Possession was Man City 82% (81%) Newcastle 18% (19%)
Total shots were Man City 15 (8) Newcastle 11 (5)
Shots on target were Man City 6 (4) Newcastle 5 (2)
Corners were Man City 5 (3) Newcastle 4 (2)
Referee: Kevin Friend
Dubravka, Murphy, Fernandez (Gayle 88), Krafth, Dummett, Ritchie (Sean Longstaff 84), Shelvey, Willock, Almiron, Saint-Maximin, Joelinton (Lewis 84)
Mark Gillespie, Ciaran Clark, Andy Carroll, Jeff Hendrick, Javier Manquillo, Matty Longstaff
(Newcastle 3 Manchester City 4 – A shockingly excellent performance and an even better match! Read HERE)
(Newcastle 3 Manchester City 4 – Instant NUFC fan/writer reaction to Friday’s defeat – Read HERE)
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