Steve Bruce: Room for improvement for Newcastle

Steve Bruce emerged with mixed emotions after seeing his radical plan to address Newcastle’s goal-shyness fail to pay dividends in the way he had hoped.

Newcastle have gone six hours of Premier League football without a goal after Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Burnley at St James’ Park with even a change of system and different personnel unable to end the drought.

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“I was pleased with some aspects, the clean sheet,” Newcastle head coach Bruce said after the game.

“When you change shape, you always worry that the defensive stability we have had remains and we pride ourselves on that especially at home.

“We’ve had 20 attempts, I think, which is far more than we’ve had before and to be fair to Burnley, the number of times they got a block in or a deflection or a challenge, you have to say well done to them to for the defensive show they put on.

“But there was a bit of it with which I was pleased. Room for improvement, of course like always, but I certainly thought that we were more of a threat and looked like scoring more.”

‘We have to take our chances’

Bruce took a bold approach as he abandoned his three-man defence and opted for a 4-2-3-1 formation which included misfiring £40m striker Joelinton in a wide left position.

The ploy saw playmaker Jonjo Shelvey and striker Dwight Gayle return to the starting line-up with Allan Saint-Maximin perhaps the most eye-catching absentee, although Bruce revealed the Frenchman had been left out after complaining of soreness in his hamstrings.

Newcastle just cannot score a goal. They didn’t really have many clear opportunities but when they did, they just made the wrong decisions, picked the wrong pass.

Soccer Saturday guest Neil Warnock

Ultimately, it counted for little as, despite impressive individual displays from Shelvey, Joelinton and Miguel Almiron they were unable to create enough good opportunities and passed up those which did come their way with only four of their 21 attempts hitting the target.

Bruce said: “Twenty-one attempts, you don’t often get that in the Premier League, I can assure you, and we have to take one. There lies our problem.”

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Dyche pleased with clean sheet

Meanwhile, Burnley boss Sean Dyche was pleased with the way his team – unbeaten in six in the league – played as keeper Nick Pope kept an 11th clean sheet in front of England manager Gareth Southgate but bemoaned a lack of creativity.

“I don’t think we got to grips with the game offensively today particularly in the first half, when we couldn’t find the moments you need to to win games,” Dyche said.

It was a poor game and after about 50 minutes I think both Steve Bruce and Sean Dyche would have been happy to get away with a point.

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“But defensively, on the other hand, we were solid and you get a clean sheet – I think that’s 11 for the season now – and it always gives you something to build on if you are keeping clean sheets.

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