Steve Bruce has a chat. He says he has chosen Paul Dummett “because of his experience, and we know what to expect from West Brom from the set pieces and the threat they pose in that area,” and there is also this, in his fight with Matt Ritchie:
Look, these things happen all over the country. Unfortunately, it has too much time in the air. As far as I’m concerned, it was done and dusted in 24 hours. We continue. Hopefully we can get galvanized if that’s the right word and get a result.
And this, about life without Almiron and Saint-Maximin, and a squad in which there is no one who has scored more than two goals this season:
I mean, look, it’s hard. When you put Callum in too, you have your three front players. But we just have to find a way. We have good players to get to those positions, so hopefully they can produce something a bit special and make sure we win the game. We had a really decent season last year, and our top scorer was Jonjo Shelvey with six. We know it is not easy, but it is what it is, we have to find a way.
The teams are in! West Brom stays with the team that lost to Everton on Thursday, while Newcastle make three changes: Lewis, Almiron and Saint-Maximin are out; Enter Dummett, Fraser, and Hendrick.
West Brom: Johnstone, Furlong, O’Shea, Bartley, Townsend, Yokuslu, Matheus Pereira, Gallagher, Maitland-Niles, Phillips, Diagne. Subs: Robson-Kanu, Ajayi, Robinson, Livermore, Sawyers, Peltier, Snodgrass, Button, Ahearne-Grant.
Newcastle: Dubravka, Krafth, Lascelles, Clark, Dummett, Hendrick, Shelvey, Hayden, Willock, Joelinton, Fraser. Subs: Carroll, Ritchie, Gayle, Lewis, Fernández, Manquillo, Murphy, Darlow, Sean Longstaff.
Referee: Martin Atkinson.
What day is this for Newcastle, what a time. Sure, they’re ranked 17th and have impressed few people this season, but today, right here, they have a chance to put a tough week behind them and extend their lead over 19th-ranked West Bromwich Albion from nine points to 12., with 10 games remaining, and effectively they are left with only one relegation spot to worry about. Steve Bruce said this week that his team “will do everything they can to get out of trouble, unfortunately, we’re in,” and that means giving up today.
(I was not present at his press conference, but he seems more rambling than usual. For example: “More than ever, I am 100% committed to trying to get us out of the trouble we are in. I think the players do too. I have 100% faith in them, and I think that’s still vital for us. So no, just because things get tough … I always knew things would be tough. Maybe it’s harder than I thought, But I always knew it was going to be difficult. This is a difficult job, no doubt about that. But I will do everything I can, as I always do, to make sure we are okay “).
Sam Allardyce’s response to stories about fiery disputes between Bruce and Matt Ritchie was also pleasant: “It’s a disagreement, what’s wrong with it? I like disagreements. “He agrees with disagreements. He finds it nice to disagree. That’s splendidly contrary to him. Still, it goes without saying that this is a game of enormous importance to the Baggies; whereas Newcastle You really can’t afford to lose, you really can’t afford not to win … and you can’t afford not to watch it.
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* He said, without any confidence.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism