Some enormous caveats must apply to Newcastle United’s record-breaking 7-0 win at Morecambe last night.
It’s the first time in the Magpies’ 127-year history that they’ve won by a seven-goal margin away from home, but it must be stressed it was against seriously feeble opposition.
Derek Adams’ Shrimps finished 22nd in League Two last season, winning just seven of 37 outings in the fourth tier.
They’ve done well to start the new campaign by navigating past Grimsby and Oldham in the first two rounds of the Carabao Cup, but received a crushing taste of reality with a 5-0 loss at home to Cambridge United at the weekend.
Newcastle only going two better than Cambridge puts their seven-goal thrashing in context, and few will read too much into it after their insipid 3-0 home defeat to Brighton on Sunday.
Still, credit’s where credit’s due. You can only beat what’s in front of you, as the old cliche goes, and a much-changed Magpies XI turned up at the Globe Arena with mercy the last thing on their minds. They raced into a four-goal lead after half an hour and refused to take their foot off the gas even after Toumani Diagouraga’s first-half dismissal.
“When you have a disappointing result, the one thing you have to do is respond and that’s what pleased more than anything,” Bruce said post-match.
“The response, the attitude towards it on an awful night, nobody here. It’s got that look that if you don’t do it properly then you can have one of them awful evenings and we’ve all experienced them before, especially a club like ours.
“It was nice to get the job done and the way that they went about it. Some of the football, particularly the first half an hour, was terrific.”
Of Newcastle’s starting XI against Brighton, only Jamaal Lascelles and Isaac Hayden remained in the starting line-up for their midweek outing. Both stepped up to get on the scoresheet and help exert total control, registering 76% possession and keeping the hosts to a solitary shot on target.
“I made nine changes and we still looked very, very strong,” Bruce added.
While it’s not worth getting carried away with the result, the seven-goal mauling was a breath of fresh air and a stark contrast to the regular occasions when second-string Newcastle sides of the past would labour to narrow, unconvincing wins - or shock defeats - against inferior lower-league opposition in the domestic cups.
The 3-2 loss, after extra time, at home to Nottingham Forest in 2018; the 3-0 FA Cup fourth-round exit at Oxford in January 2017; the limp 1-0 defeats by Watford and Sheffield Wednesday in the League and FA Cups respectively in 2016/17. Stevenage, Brighton, Cardiff. The list goes on.
Season after season the cup competitions came and went with little to shout about, as the players on the fringes of the squad lacked either the motivation or the quality to step up and impress.
That wasn’t the case at Morecambe, where the likes of Joelinton, Miguel Almiron, Sean Longstaff and Matt Ritchie looked up for the occasion and hungry to earn back their place in Bruce’s first XI.
Recent fallout over the long-running takeover saga at Newcastle United hasn't just been the talk of Tyneside - it was the talk of the footballing world.
Now, Steve Bruce must recollect his team and push forward without the change of ownership and new backing.
However, the twists and turns aren't over, with current owner Mike Ashley 'considering all options' after the Premier League rejected the £300m takeover.
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Newcastle’s summer business has been pretty good to date. In adding several capable and competent Premier League players, there’s genuine depth and competition for places at Newcastle for the first time in a long, long time.
By bulking out Bruce’s squad, and not simply employing a revolving door policy by bringing in new faces to replace outgoings of a similar standard, you get results and performances like last night’s. Competition for places breeds a healthy hunger.
Yes, it’s only Morecambe, but seldom could Newcastle managers of the past make nine changes and come away with a 7-0 victory. Wednesday night’s starters have given Bruce something to think about, which is as much as he could have asked for.