Steve Bruce struggles to develop Rafa Benítez blueprint at Newcastle

first_imgShare on Pinterest features While Pérez joined Leicester for £30m, Rondón was reunited with Benítez at China’s Dalian Yifang after Newcastle balked at paying £16m to turn a 30-year-old’s loan into a permanent deal. Diamé, 32, headed to Qatar’s al-Ahli when his contract was not extended. “Mo Diamé’s an excellent player,” says Bruce. “I’d have tried to keep him but it was all done and dusted by the time I arrived.”He is left with tantalising yet unfulfilled potential. “Joelinton’s still learning the trade a little bit,” he says. “At Hoffenheim he played on the left, rather than through the middle, a lot and got used to that role. I don’t think that, as a team, we’ve created enough chances for him but I can’t – or won’t – change our style radically, it’s got be gradual, it can’t happen overnight.”Benítez previously declined the chance to sign Joelinton but did push for January’s £20m acquisition of Miguel Almirón from Atlanta in the MLS. The gifted if enigmatic Paraguayan is still to score his first Newcastle goal. “The biggest problem, is what’s his best position?’” says Bruce. “He’s a really good footballer. He’s not a centre‑forward or a natural No 10, he’s an old-fashioned inside‑forward and we have to get the best out of him.”His predecessor would argue that Almirón looked an infinitely better fit alongside the experienced Rondón but Bruce broadly endorses Newcastle’s reluctance to invest heavily in players aged over 25 due to a lack of resale value. “I agree with the policy because it’s everybody’s policy,” he says. “There’s not many Premier League teams who would want to spend big money on a 30-year-old.”The trouble is, without Rondón, Bruce’s blanket seems even shorter than Benítez’s. Topics Steve Bruce vows to change Newcastle style in apparent swipe at Rafael Benítez At present Bruce’s every tactical tweak – and so far they have amounted to experimenting with 3-5-2, modifying Benítez’s 3-4-3 and attempting to press higher up the pitch – appears freighted with risk. Already he has learned that attempting to build everything around Jonjo Shelvey’s languid playmaking skills does not work.The task is further complicated by last season’s top scorers, Salomón Rondón and Ayoze Pérez, having left a club also missing the similarly departed Mo Diamé’s influential midfield heft. Granted, the £40m Brazilian striker Joelinton has arrived but the 23-year-old is struggling to adapt to a new Premier League habitat, as is the £16.5m former Nice winger Allan Saint-Maximin, 22. Meanwhile, Andy Carroll – who reportedly commands a basic £20,000-a-week wage supplemented by £35,000 per substitute appearance and £70,000 per start – has an ankle problem and may not begin a game until the new year. Newcastle United During his days as Newcastle’s manager, Rafa Benítez often discussed the problems of sleeping beneath a “short blanket”, frequently lamenting the impossibility of keeping both his neck and feet warm. It did not take a genius to deduce that Steve Bruce’s predecessor was not really talking about deficient bedding but deploying a diplomatic metaphor to emphasise his struggles to make the most of insufficient resources at St James’ Park.Benítez’s way of making Newcastle appear more than the sum of their parts was to implement a possession-light, counterattacking approach big on shape and structure which left his team hard to beat. Bruce is attempting to make that framework a little more flexible and, by upping the possession and particularly the pass-completion statistics, provide increased scope for creativity and improvisation. “It’s the only way we’ll improve,” he maintains as he prepares for Sunday’s tricky trip to Leicester. “We can’t keep surrendering the ball; we’ve got to cross it more, we’ve got to create more chances.” Read more Few fans would disagree yet such philosophical transitions often prove uncomfortable and sometimes downright dangerous. At times this season Bruce’s XI’s have looked as unconvincing as the latest Peter Kenyon-led attempted takeover at St James’ Park. Although Benítez’s successor is convinced that, unless his players become more comfortable and fluent on the ball, they will continually be involved in relegation skirmishes, altering the squad’s deeply ingrained counterattacking mindset is much easier said than done.With Bruce having won only one Premier League game since taking charge – albeit at Tottenham – and average home attendances down by almost 10,000, he could probably have done without reporters overhearing a comment from Isaac Hayden last Saturday. It was 30 minutes into the goalless draw against Brighton when the midfielder approached the technical area and told his manager: “This isn’t working.” The Fiver: sign up and get our daily football email. Share on Facebookcenter_img Share on Twitter Reuse this content The Observer Read more Share on Messenger Share on LinkedIn Share via Email Steve Bruce Share on WhatsApp Newcastle turn blind eye to Peter Beardsley’s inadequate coachinglast_img read more

2012 NSWTA Blues Dinner Awards

first_imgCongratulations to the award recipients at the 2012 New South Wales Touch Association Blues Dinner.Affiliate of the YearSouthern SunsGriffith Touch AssociationSydney RebelsBankstown Jets Touch AssociationSydney MetsPenrith Touch AssociationSydney ScorpionsNorthern Suburbs Touch AssociationHunter Western HornetsDubbo Touch Association Northern EaglesArmidale Touch AssociationNSWTA Affiliate of the Year Dubbo Touch AssociationAdministrator of the Year Southern SunsNick Altin (Griffith Touch Association)Sydney RebelsJohn Ryan (Eastern Suburbs Touch Association)Sydney MetsMargaret Thornton (Penrith Touch Association)Sydney ScorpionsSue Jones (Manly Warringah Touch Association)Hunter Western HornetsShane Hayne (Berkeley Vale Touch Association)Northern EaglesPeta Devine (Gunnedah Touch Association)NSWTA Administrator of the Year Nick Altin (Griffith Touch Association)The ‘Matthew Medal’ – Referee of the YearDavid Baggio (Wagga Wagga Touch Association)Selector of the YearBarry Gibson (Manly Warringah Touch Association)Junior Coach of the YearBelinda Caruso (Wallsend Touch Association)Coach of the YearWade Jenkins (Eastern Suburbs Touch Association)NSWTA Region of the YearHunter Western HornetsSenior Female Player of the YearAnnette Mounsey (Wollongong Touch Association)Senior Male Player of the YearGarry Sonda (Eastern Suburbs Touch Association)Junior Female Player of the YearLaura Peattie (Manly Warringah Touch Association)Junior Male Player of the YearJosh Rozairo (Bankstown Touch Association)Female Player of the YearLouise Winchester (Canterbury Bankstown Touch Association)Male Player of the YearDylan Hennessey (Hornsby Touch Association)Stay tuned to for all of the latest stories from the 2012 NSWTA Blues Dinner and the NSWTA YouTube channel for all of the highlights – Related LinksNSWTA Award Recipientslast_img read more