Steve Bruce has slammed former player Michael Chopra over his claims that the Newcastle United squad don’t work on their shape in training.
The Magpies’ boss hit back at Chopra, who told talkSPORT that a number of Newcastle’s squad had told him that they didn’t know their roles within Bruce’s system this season.
Bruce fired back at the claims in his pre-match press conference on Friday, as quoted by the Chronicle, calling Chopra’s remarks “nonsense.”
“The Chopra thing (when the striker suggested people didn’t know their jobs) was blown out of all proportion,” he said.
“Some of this stuff out there is just nonsense, blatant lies. Some of the criticism has been relentless but I’ll protect the players and keep my dignity.”
Newcastle have lost their opening two fixtures in the Premier League under Bruce, falling to defeat against both Arsenal and Norwich City in his favoured 3-5-2 formation.
Credit where credit is due for Bruce, who came out and addressed Chopra’s claims directly. It would be hard to go against Bruce in this situation too, with Chopra always the first to come out and voice his opinion on the club, most likely for that little bit of publicity. Of course, it will take time for the players to adjust to a new manager, but for professional football players to not know their role, is simply nonsense. Rafael Benitez played a three-at-the-back formation with wing-backs last season with the majority of the same squad so the same players will be accustomed to playing that way. The main difference is the space between the midfield and the attack – with Bruce surely needing to push one of the midfield three further forward to create more chances after the Magpies only averaged 10.5 shots per game according to WhoScored. A more defensive set-up would be prudent against Tottenham on Sunday, but for further games, Bruce must look for a more attacking system which can be used to create more chances throughout contests.