Craig Bellamy weighs in on Newcastle United debate as pressure on Steve Bruce continues

Craig Bellamy believes Newcastle United players aren’t enjoying their football under Steve Bruce.
Craig Bellamy spent four years as a Newcastle United player. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)Craig Bellamy spent four years as a Newcastle United player. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
Craig Bellamy spent four years as a Newcastle United player. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

The Magpies slumped to their sixth defeat in-a-row following the 2-1 home defeat to Leeds United on Tuesday evening – extending their winless run to 11 matches.

United’s torrid form has heaped pressure on Bruce, with supporters making their feelings known via the hashtag #BruceOut, which again was trending on Twitter after another loss.

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Several pundits have been quick to point the finger at the apparent lack of quality in United’s squad, rather than blame the head coach himself.

However, Bellamy, now under-21s manager at Belgian side Anderlecht, insists there is quality at Bruce’s disposal.

He told talkSPORT: “They’ve got enough players to survive, they have enough quality, it’s what you do against teams in-and-around you.

"I’m not a huge fan of teams having so (little) much of the ball. There’s only one football out there – I want to dominate that ball.

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"They sit back a lot, maybe Steve Bruce feels with his experience that’s the best way to go about it against teams he feels are better than his.

"My concern is, how do you turn it when you feel you are playing a lot of teams who are better than you, player for player, so you sit back, you let them have a lot of the ball, you’re well organised… how do you turn it around then when you want to have loads of the ball against teams who you feel you’re better than when the players are so used to sitting back?

“You’ve got to change your mentality very, very quick. You need a certain group of players to be able to do that.”

Bellamy joined Newcastle from Coventry City in 2001 back when Sir Bobby Robson was manager.

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After Robson departed in 2004, he soon clashed with his successor Graeme Souness and was subsequently shipped on loan to Celtic in January 2005.

In the following summer, Bellamy joined Blackburn Rovers on a permanent transfer. He later played for Liverpool, West Ham United, Manchester City and Cardiff City before retiring in 2014.

Now a coach himself, Bellamy believes Newcastle players aren’t enjoying their football under Bruce – citing Brian Clough in his explanation.

He added: "Why do we play this game? We didn’t play the game as young kids watching the other players have the ball, defending deep or say ‘I’ll just sit here and defend’.

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"We all wanted the ball, we were all out there chasing the ball around the playground no matter where it was. Our habits, even as footballers, never really go too far away from that.

"We always want the ball, we want to enjoy the game. You want to work hard, of course you do, but like Brian Clough said: ‘If you have plenty of the ball, you work really, really hard and then you can enjoy it.

"(It) just looks to me that some of the players at Newcastle don’t seem to be enjoying it and you need to change that quick.”