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Season 2021-22
Leeds United (h) Premier League


Friday 17th September 2021, 8pm
Live on Sky Sports

 St. James' Park

Conditions: Chaotic



 Leeds United


1 - 1





13 mins Raphinha's intended cross from the right going straight into the Gallowgate goal - Darlow seemingly deceived by Rodrigo shaping to meet the ball in but allowing it run past him and beyond the 'keeper. 0-1

44 mins Matt Ritchie successfully challenged Stuart Dallas for the ball on the Newcastle left and pushed a pass forward to Joe Willock, who scampered over halfway before releasing Joelinton down the left hand channel.

Shadowed by Luke Ayling, the Brazilian pulled the ball back to Allan Saint-Maximin, who after a typical mazy run across the box swivelled and sent a powerful low drive from level with the penalty spot across Illian Meslier and into the Leazes End net.

There was a brief melee in the goal as Newcastle attempted to regain the ball before order was restored and the sides parted.

Half time: Magpies 1 Whites 1

Full time: Magpies 1 Whites 1

We Said

Steve Bruce:

"I enjoyed the game and let's be honest it could have gone either way.

"It was like when you play at school, it was end to end and to be fair to Leeds they force you into that way. After a difficult start, the actual game and response from our team was terrific.

"It's been fine margins today. We needed a bit of luck to go our way. It's been a difficult start there's no disputing that but if we keep playing the way we did there then I'm convinced we'll be ok.

"That's the big thing about the Premier League whether you're at the top or the bottom. You have to accept when you don't win a game you come under pressure. How you handle it, keep your dignity, do what you think is best and stick with it.

The way they have gone about their work today, it could have gone either way, but it was a great football match.

"It is very, very difficult - it is the demand of a big club. We are a big club with huge support.

And there is a frustration and we want Newcastle competing in the top half of the division. At the moment we're not. So we have to accept the criticism that comes our way and get on with it, not let it affect you. And keep trying to do your job the best you can.

"I can understand frustrations. I get that. The atmosphere they created makes the spectacle. They are unique and the way they got behind the team was the most important thing and I'm very pleased about that.

"These fans can be the best in the world: we need to get them back on board and our performances need to improve to get them on board.

"I can't sit here and say it's not difficult. I understand that frustration. I really, really do, but for me it's all about the team and the way they were as a crowd towards the team and the atmosphere that generated. What can I say about the chants
(calling on him to leave) ?

"I'll continue to try and be the best I can be in this situation. I hope I can draw on the experience which I've had over the last 20-odd years to try and keep out the noise."

On the decision to alter formation mid-game:

"On last yearís awful run, we changed to a back four, and had a response. Then we changed back after Brighton, and changed to a different formation, and went 5-3-2. After Brighton we stayed with 5-3-2 with results.

"Itís given me food for thought again. Iíve always thought it was important that we have the ability to change. Weíve certainly got that in our locker.Ē

On the returning Karl Darlow:

"Iím pleased for him. Iím pleased to see him fit and healthy, because a few weeks ago, he was in a desperately poorly situation.

"First and foremost, good to see him back as a goalkeeper, more importantly his health is good, fortunately for him and us. I think he proved what a good goalkeeper he is.

"Unfortunately, Freddie
(Woodman) hurt himself on Wednesday diving in a shooting drill, so the decision was easy. Freddie hasnít made it. He wasnít quite ready.Ē

On the unselected Dwight Gayle:

"I think itís the system that we are playing, which Iím looking at of course; Dwight trains every day and is a great pro.

"Iím sure he will be frustrated Ė well, I know for a fact he is. But then again, so are ten, 12 other players. I have got to pick a team to win a football match and go with a system Ė and he hasnít found a way in yet.Ē

Bruce's media Zoom call comments from Thursday:

On the "Brucie out" chants:

"Look, it's always difficult. I would be sick if I said I quite enjoyed it. It's difficult.

"The frustration is, like any other Premier League club or any other Football League club, if you don't get results then ultimately the manager, head coach, whatever I am, bears the brunt.

"That's what it is, so I have to accept that results haven't been good enough.

"What the disappointment was we played very well at a difficult place last week - as difficult as it was going to get. We played very well and didn't get anything out of the game, which was the frustration.

"Itís not all about me. Iím here to only do what I think is best for the club Ė and that is manage it as best I can and keep us moving along.

"Itís for other people to answer that (questions about his future). I will continue to do my best. Iím never going to walk away from the challenge of it, thatís for sure. Youíre asking the wrong person.Ē

Asked whether he would consider his position if the abuse he received became detrimental to the team:

"Well then you start looking at yourself, of course but knowing the way I am, itís not in my nature to walk away from something when weíre in a fight. ĎOh itís too difficult so Iím going to walk awayí, that doesnít really register with me.Ē

He also said:

"Do you not think I want better players? Do you not think I want a better squad to choose from? Do you not think I want the ability to compete at the top end of the transfer market?

"Itís not possible, so I have to accept it and get on with my job as best I can, at this moment. Thereís the frustration for everybody concerned, and Iím the same.

"In these difficult moments, I hope my experience of being in it a long time can steer us along that path. Itís not great, I understand that, but thatís where we are.

"The challenge at the minute is just ticking along and make sure that the club stays where it is and we maintain our Premier League status.

Stirring words eh? a billion miles away from his predecessors - and don't forget that ticking along is an aspiration, not a reflection on where we currently are.

"I know for a lot of people that we should be better than that, but thatís where we are at the moment and we have been for a while. That is everybodyís frustration.

"I want Newcastle to be in the top of the league so that frustration is there but I donít think about, ĎOh the noise is too bad, walk away Steveí.

"Itís not in my nature to walk away from something when weíre in a fight."

Asked about Alan Shearer's comments on Match of the Day, labelling Newcastle a Ďhollow and an empty clubí:

"Look, Alan is entitled to his opinion, thatís what he gets paid for, thatís what his job is now.

"What I will say is there is a lot of people and a nucleus of players who have been here a long time, and the club means something to them. Thereís a lot of good people who work at the club who have also been here a long long time.

"They want the club to do well and unfortunately at the moment we are not doing well enough.

"All Newcastle fans want to see their team competing at the top of the table, like they did 20 years ago. Unfortunately at this particular moment, weíre not there.

"So there is the frustration for everybody concerned. My job is to keep us ó and I knew this was going to be difficult ó on an even keel, try and get on with the job and move the club forward as best I can, which is very, very difficult, of course.Ē

They Said

Marcelo Bielsa said: 

"We had sufficient chances to go in at the break with a bigger margin, but we didn't score in proportion to the amount of chances we created.

"We were missing some efficiency and capitalising on the chances that we had. We had a lot of possession, perhaps we could have created even more danger especially in the second half."

It was a game that according to what happened, we should have won. We had a lot of opportunities to score and there were also a lot of options where they didnít end up in danger, but it would have been easy to convert to danger.

"It is true that the opponent also had chances. Less than us and within a transmit that was different. We dominated the game and they counter attacked. But, I insist, given the chances we had we should have won the game.

"I also would have hoped we would have reduced the amount of chances that the opponent created. That would have established a bigger margin between the two teams.Ē

On Steve Bruce:

"It's not easy to manage a team when the fans are clearly against you."


Allan Saint-Maximin netted his second PL goal of the season. He now has eight in that competition; level with current SJP colleagues Miguel Almiron, Ciaran Clark, Jamaal Lascelles and Joe Willock.

Newcastle have now failed to win any of their opening three PL home games - for the eighth time in 27 seasons of playing in that competition:

1999/00 Lost, Drew, Lost
2003/04 Lost, Lost, Drew
2005/06 Drew, Lost, Drew
2014/15 Lost, Drew, Drew
2015/16 Drew, Lost, Lost
2018/19 Lost, Lost, Lost
2019/20 Lost, Drew, Drew
Lost, Drew, Drew

And no wins from the first five PL fixtures hardly takes us into uncharted territory:

Games before first PL win was achieved:

1: 1994/95, 1995/96, 1997/98, 2002/03, 2006/07, 2007/08, 2012/13, 2020/21
2: 1996/97, 2000/01, 2008/09, 2010/11, 2011/12
3: 2001/02, 2013/14, 2017/18, 2019/20
4: 1993/94
5: 1998/99, 2004/05
6: 2005/06
7: 2003/04
8: 1999/00, 2014/15
9: 2015/16
11: 2018/19

Friday on our minds - NUFC PL games:

2021/22 Leeds United (h) drew 1-1
Manchester City (h) lost 3-4
Leicester City (a) won 4-2
Aston Villa (h) drew 1-1
2020/21 Crystal Palace (a) won 2-0
2020/21 Southampton (a) lost 0-2
2018/19 Leicester City (a) won 1-0
2014/15 Manchester United (a) lost 1-3
2011/12 Swansea City (a) won 2-0
2011/12 Liverpool (a) lost 1-3
2008/09 Wigan Athletic (a) lost 1-2
2003/04 Leicester City (a) drew 1-1
2003/04 Arsenal (a) lost 2-3
2001/02 Everton (h) won 6-2
1997/98 Derby County (a) lost 0-1
1994/95 Everton (a) lost 0-2
1993/94 Leeds United (a) drew 1-1

For completeness, here are our Friday Championship games in the PL era:

2016/17 Cardiff City (a) won 2-0
2016/17 Leeds United (h) drew 1-1
2016/17 Nottingham Forest (h) won 3-1
2016/17 Nottingham Forest (a) lost 1-2
2016/17 Fulham (a) lost 0-1
2009/10 Cardiff City (h) won 5-1

Leeds @ SJP - last 20 visits:

2021/22 drew 1-1 Saint-Maximin (PL)
2020/21 lost 1-2 Almiron (PL)
2016/17 drew 1-1 Lascelles (Ch)
2013/14 won 2-0 Cisse, Gouffran (LC)
2009/10 drew 0-0 (FR)
2003/04 won 1-0 Shearer (PL)
2002/03 lost 0-2 (PL)
2001/02 won 3-1 OG, Dyer, Bellamy (PL)
2000/01 won 2-1 Solano, Acuna (PL)
1999/00 drew 2-2 Shearer 2 (PL)
1998/99 lost 0-3 (PL)
1997/98 drew 1-1 Ketsbaia (PL)
1996/97 won 3-0 Shearer 2, Ferdinand (PL)
1995/96 won 2-1 Lee Beardsley (PL)
1994/95 lost 1-2 Elliott (PL)
1993/94 drew 1-1 Cole (PL)
1989/90 won 5-2 Quinn 4, Gallacher (D2)
1983/84 won 1-0 OG (D2)
1982/83 won 2-1 Waddle, Keegan(pen) (D2)
1982/83 lost 1-4 Clarke (LC)


Another outstanding individual strike from Allan Saint-Maximin saw Newcastle double their points tally to a paltry two from a possible 15 on Friday night.

Trailing to an early strike from Raphinha that provoked the expected outpouring of rage, the St.James' Park natives were still restless until ASM's moment of magic at the Leazes End after 44 minutes.

The object of their anger was inevitably Steve Bruce, and although planned protests failed to make the visual impact that was intended, the soundtrack was loudly aimed at the Magpies boss.

Fielding the same outfield line-up that started at Old Trafford, Karl Darlow returned in place of Freddie Woodman, with Mark Gillespie on the bench. It later emerged that Woodman was injured.

A wretched opening to the game saw the purple-clad visitors ahead on 13 minutes; Raphinha's intended cross from the right going straight into the Gallowgate goal - Darlow seemingly deceived by Rodrigo shaping to meet the ball in but allowing it run past him and beyond the 'keeper.

The goal was no shock, with the home defence struggling to contain Marcelo Bielsa's side as they surged down their right flank and ultimately went ahead for the first time in a game this season.

But while Newcastle's first-choice defence looked ill-at-ease, the same could be said for a visiting backline weakened by injury and suspension.

Once the black and whites actually got into the Leeds area, mayhem ensued and Miggy Almiron fired wide on 20 minutes before Joelinton wastefully shot straight at Illan Meslier moments later.

By then the first formation change had been introduced, Isaac Hayden pushing forward into midfield with Matt Ritchie and Javier Manquillo playing as conventional full backs in a four at the back set-up. Further finessing followed later on after the arrival of Ryan Fraser; Joelinton stepping up to partner Saint-Maximin, theoretically at least.

Ritchie was unlucky to see his 35th minute shot from the edge of the box strike the inside of the post before ASM's typical mazy run across the box and smart finish got his side back on terms.

Newcastle had already generously given up one goal and several other close calls - and incredibly they did their best to go in behind at half time; allowing Leeds to pour forward unopposed and have two efforts blocked, before Firpo somehow shot over from close range.

After the break, Saint-Maximin provided Newcastle's main goal threat and forced two stops from Meslier while Joelinton ridiculously made his way into the area but steadfastly refused to have a shot.

Leeds also went close on several occasions during what was a rather saner 45 minutes of football; Patrick Bamford making a mess of his best chance and a back header from Jamaal Lascelles reached well by Darlow.

While the visitors attempted to impose a pattern of play, the hosts were entirely reliant on the counter, with no suggestion of any methodical build-up. Set pieces were uniformly poor again and we simply never dominated the game - or looked like we had the guile or patience to build or force an opening to win this match.

There was certainly no lack of effort and spirited home performances were numerous, but that's almost worse than being walloped and looking like they weren't playing for their boss. Not hapless but helpless.

Under the current management and with the available players, it's debatable whether we can actually play any better than this; which hardly augurs well for our chances of reaching seventeenth.

As has been the case since he signed, the availability of Callum Wilson remains absolutely pivotal to our chances of survival - especially as we don't seem to have a viable replacement. Dwight Gayle again sat on the bench tonight and is yet to kick a ball in the PL this season.

And as for Saint-Maximin, the last Al to carry the team to this extent was the one from Gosforth now working for the BBC. It's a measure of his increased commitment also that he's played every minute of our five PL games so far this season; the hour cameo before limping off is a thing of the past.

(He actually looked to be hobbling before the first whistle tonight, while the bandages he arrived bedecked in are more and more reminiscent of the invisible man. Hopefully they'll continue to guard him from injury). 

Speaking ahead of this game, Bruce revealed his ambition to have a side that were "ticking along." On this evidence though, it's more of a ticking time bomb on and off the field.

The skill of ASM and the inability of Leeds to punish our error-strewn defending meant that there was no explosion tonight. That detonation - and the fall out - has surely only been delayed though, rather than defused.


Page last updated 21 June, 2022