Bruce insists Joelinton is not solely responsible for Newcastle’s goal shortage
Steve Bruce is refusing to lay Newcastle’s shortage of goals solely at the feet of misfiring forward Joelinton.
The £40million summer signing has found the back of the net in the Premier League only once – at Tottenham on August 25 – with his two other goals coming against lower league opposition in the FA Cup.
However, as he prepares for a reshuffle ahead of Saturday’s clash with Burnley at St James’ Park, Bruce admits the whole team needs a shift in emphasis as they attempt to balance a defensive resilience which has seen only runaway leaders Liverpool concede fewer goals at home this season with greater potency at the other end.
He said: “It’s not just him [Joelinton], it’s the whole team. The front three, we’re all disappointed – is it four goals between them?
“We’ve done remarkably well when you look at the statistics. We’ve got the best defensive statistics at home apart from Liverpool but the worst scoring record apart from Palace – therein lies our problem.
“We haven’t had the best of times. It’s how you respond.”
Bruce has hinted he could play both the Brazilian and the fit-again Dwight Gayle against the Clarets in a bid to pose more of a threat and that may force him to abandon the three-man defence he has employed for much of the season.
Newcastle’s need is pressing – successive defeats at Arsenal and Palace after a fortuitous 0-0 draw with bottom-of-the-table Norwich in their last outing on Tyneside have set alarm bells ringing once again even though they go into the weekend seven points clear of the drop zone.
They head for Sky Bet Championship West Brom in the FA Cup fifth round on Tuesday evening and know those two games could have a major say in how the remainder of the campaign pans out.
Bruce said: “Look, I think there’s still 10, 11 games to go, we’ve got a big cup tie, we’ve got six left at home, our home record stacks up very quietly, so it’s all to play for.
“If you have a couple of bad results whatever Premier League team you are in, then you come under the pump a little bit, maybe more so here.
“But that’s when you have to show your mettle and the only way you can do it is by winning a couple of games. We’ve got a good opportunity this week, let’s try.”