Former England forward Chris Sutton has said that Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce will feel “humiliated” after his side slumped to a 1-0 loss against Aston Villa on Monday evening.
The Magpies manager came up against his former team at Villa Park, but his outfit put in a frankly gutless performance as the home side looked comfortable for all three points.
Is Steve Bruce taking Newcastle down?
Despite this, Bruce will be reasonably content to his start at the club considering the adversity that has been happening at St James’ Park. Following on from Rafael Benitez’s legacy (built on keeping Newcastle in the Premier League) was always going to be a stiff ask, so if he finishes in their current position of 14th, then he and the club will surely be delighted with his efforts.
This game had added value, though. With Bruce in the week saying that the Villa job was arguably his most difficult and that the fans were a “difficult” lot ( the Telegraph), both supporters of the Birmingham-based side and the Newcastle boss would have been hoping to have the last laugh.
Thankfully for the fans of the claret and blue, a stellar performance from Conor Hourihane meant that it was them that went to work on Tuesday morning with a smile.
After the match, former Villa player Sutton said that they were good value for their win.
He said on BBC Radio 5 Live: “I think Steve Bruce will feel humiliated. He would have been quite entitled to chuck cabbages at his own team at half-time.
“Villa really deserved their victory. They needed the three points, they got the three points and Dean Smith got his performance.
“It was important Villa stepped up and played with confidence after three defeats.
“Newcastle helped them immensely by the fact they were so passive. Villa did have to weather a little bit of a Newcastle storm at the start of the second half but it was a big performance and they’re back on track.”
In classic Sutton-nature, he made some pretty bold claims about the match, and while “embarrassed” might be a bit strong with Newcastle still above Villa in the league, it was a poor show from his side.
With there being a fair bit of history between Bruce and his former employers – most notably cabbage-gate – he is likely to be really upset with his side’s performance, and he made that clear in his post-match comments.
Even with the home side having 62 per cent possession and more shots, it was two set-pieces which were the deciding factor in the match; if Hourihane didn’t have those two bits of quality and Newcastle performed as they did in the second half, they could well have taken a point back to Tyneside.
But will he be embarrassed? Probably not. Disappointed, yes, but perhaps a bit of perspective is needed. He may have lost to his old side, poorly, but objectively, he left a side struggling in the Championship just over a year ago and now sits mid-table in the Premier League with a huge club in Newcastle, one place above his former employer.
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