Kieron Dyer mentioned on Sky Sports prior to the game that Newcastle United have been boring to watch for the last five years, and he does not enjoy watching Steve Bruce's side. Dyer's name and words summed up the game, it was dire and boring.
Bruce named an interesting side, with injuries in central midfield piling up the Newcastle manager handed Ryan Fraser his first Premier League start of the season. Miguel Almiron was also brought in from the alternate universe he was hiding in and Jacob Murphy started at right wing-back, the side looked like an attacking one. "Yippee, an attacking line up, we won't see a drab affair this time" my brain stupidly thought. Karl Darlow, who could barely walk on Monday was called into action within the first five minutes of the game, diving low to his left to keep out a shot from Daniel Podence.
Wolves dominated possession in the opening ten minutes. When Newcastle finally did get a touch on the ball, the inevitable happened and it was given straight back to Wolves. Newcastle's inability to string more than one pass together and the lack of pressure made it easy for Wolves to take their time. In the sixteenth minute of the game, Newcastle showed some signs of life as Murphy played the isolated Callum Wilson through. The former Bournemouth striker was at a tight angle but still managed to get his shot away, which cannoned off the sliding, Max Kilman.
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When doing a match report, it is always important to keep notes. My notes after the twenty-minute mark simply say, "Boring, really boring... Tedious." That sums up the way in which Bruce allows Newcastle to play, there does not seem to be any plan and the players have no idea what their roles are. It is not a bad thing for Newcastle supporters to want more than this, whatever this is? Bruce said when he arrived last summer that he would like Newcastle to be more attacking, front foot football the term he used. This was far from attacking and it has been turgid for far too long now.
"Oh wow, that's brilliant play" I was shocked at what I was witnessing, unfortunately I was dreaming. I had nodded off for five minutes, it was that tedious. Allan Saint-Maximin did manage to test Rui Patricio from outside the box, his deflected shot almost squirmed its way past the Portuguese 'keeper. Goalless at the break and if there were any supporters in the stadium, they would probably be asking for a refund.
Wolves were much improved in the second half, as Pedro Neto threatened twice inside the opening ten minutes of the half. There was only one team that looked the more likely to go on and win the game, it certainly wasn't Newcastle. Bruce's side were happy to watch Wolves knock the ball around for fun. No pressure and seemingly no willingness to get bodies forward. It was no surprise that Wolves eventually took the lead after 80 minutes, Raul Jimenez with a thunderous strike from just outside the box. Darlow managed to get a hand to it but the pace and power beat the Newcastle 'keeper.
Wolves' goal looked to have settled this contest but Newcastle had other ideas, nine minutes after taking the lead Conor Coady fouled Wilson on the edge of the box. Almiron and Murphy stood over the free-kick, it was the latter who curled the ball around the wall and into the bottom corner. These two sides do love a 1-1 draw, and that's exactly how the game finished. Another point for Newcastle but yet another turgid performance.
Newcastle's supporters deserve more than to be served up this dross every week. They have a set of players capable of being exciting and entertaining, yet here we are again talking about another passive and boring performance. There's just no oomph there, when Saint-Maximin has an off day, Newcastle cannot seem to find inspiration from elsewhere. There has been a lot of talk about identity and style of play recently and Newcastle lack both.
Bruce will not face any criticism in the media because his decision to start Murphy, will be seen as an ingenious move. Newcastle host high-flying Everton next, if you're having any trouble sleeping - I suggest you tune in.