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    Steve Bruce press conference: Admits tactics hindered ASM and Almiron / Take it or leave it for Matty Longstaff

    Steve Bruce has taken his pre-Manchester City press conference.

    The NUFC Head Coach speaking ahead of Sunday’s game.

    Steve Bruce talking to journalists on Friday morning via Zoom, as Newcastle now turn their attention to the FA Cup



    Steve Bruce confirming that Matt Ritchie, Isaac Hayden, Matty Longstaff and Sean Longstaff are all doubts for Sunday, with everything depending on how they perform and feel over the course of training on Friday and Saturday.

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    Both Florian Lejeune and Ciaran Clark are all but certain to be unavailable for this FA Cup game.

    Matty Longstaff has of course agreed to stay on until this season is completed, as indeed have all the other players who were asked to do so, such as Rose, Lazaro and Bentaleb.

    However, as for staying on longer, Steve Bruce appeared to indicate that it is very much take it or leave it. The club refusing to improve their offer to a market level, not even close to what other clubs have offered the midfielder. Bruce says ‘there is nothing much more we can do as a club’ but that is patently untrue, Mike Ashley refusing to allow a competitive offer to be made to a homegrown product who will then leave for only £400,000 development compensation is clearly not doing everything possible and on top of that, is sheer stupidity to allow such a promising asset to leave for so little.

    Interesting to see that Steve Bruce also admits that his over the top negative tactics were hampering the club’s best attacking players.

    Admitting ASM and Almiron were playing too deep.



    Saint-Maximin has looked far more dangerous in recent games when given freedom to roam, scoring twice in the last three PL matches and far more of a threat overall.

    Similar with Miguel Almiron.

    When playing in a more attacking formation under Rafa Benitez, Almiron looked such an exciting player as he created space and chances for Perez and Rondon later last season. Given freedom by Benitez to roam on the left and down the middle, Almiron helped inspire Newcastle to the fifth highest number of points and fifth highest number of goals in the final 16 games of the 2018/19 PL season.

    Under Steve Bruce he has almost exclusively played on the wrong (right) side and as an extra defender.

    Not quite as stand out as ASM recently but it was very noticeable that Almiron’s best spell was when the French winger was out injured and the Paraguayan was given more freedom to attack, scoring against both Palace and Wolves either side of the new year.

    In a team with so few players capable of making and scoring goals, this pair need to be pushed up the pitch as high as possible and certainly when Newcastle are defending corners, I would have both of them pushed right up on the halfway line ready to break.



    Steve Bruce looking ahead to Manchester City:

    Contract talks with Matty Longstaff:

    “It is the same as we were, the ball is in young Matty’s hands.’

    “This is his way forward, we would love him to stay.

    “We have made him a fantastic offer and there is nothing much more we can do as a club.”

    Allan Saint-Maximin and Miguel Almiron:

    “I have been delighted with them.

    “When we changed formation, I think that was the right moment.

    “We had Almiron and Saint-Maximin playing too deep which helped the team but we were becoming less of a threat.

    “Defensively we’ve been rock solid so long may it continue.”



    Football / FA Cup without fans:

    “There’s no disputing we’d love a packed St. James Park [against Man City] but it’s not to be.

    “We’ve got a big game, a huge game, we’re going to have to be at our best.

    “They’re a very good side and they’ll treat the cups now as something to look forward to.”

    Javier Manquillo  signs new four year contract:

    “He’s been terrific since I’ve walked through the door.

    “He’s been consistent and done very well.

    “He’s got competition in Krafth and Yedlin but he’s grasped the opportunity so I’m delighted he’s signed his contract.”

    Andy Carroll agrees one year contract:

    “If he can keep himself right he’ll be a good addition to any PL team.

    “He still knocked on my door the other day and wanted to know why he wasn’t starting.

    “I was pleased he still had that hunger about him and wanted to be Newcastle’s number nine.”



    Injuries:

    “We’ll see how they [Hayden and Ritchie] are today.

    “It’s a big training session today as yesterday was just a recovery day.

    “We’d be kidding ourselves if we didn’t think we’d pick up soft tissue injuries so we’ll see how we are over the next 24-48 hours.”

    Steve Bruce speaking to BBC Newcastle:

    “They [Hayden and Ritchie] were a little bit sore yesterday and we’ll see how they are again today.

    “We’ll know more tomorrow.

    “I still think it’s a little bit early for Lejeune and Clark.

    “We’re hoping the two Longstaffs might be available.

    “But, we have a big training session today and we’ll see how they come through that.”

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