Steve Bruce already has his problems at Newcastle United.
So what are Bruce’s most pressing problems?
No top-flight team has scored few goals than 17th-placed Newcastle, who have netted four times so far this season.
Joeltinon is still adjusting to the physical demands of the Premier League, while Andy Carroll, signed on transfer deadine day, is not yet fit enough to start. Dwight Gayle is yet to kick a ball. The team hasn’t been convincing in the final third of the pitch, and injuries to Allan Saint-Maximin and Matt Ritchie haven’t helped.
Bruce said he wanted his team to play a more attacking brand of football after succeeding Rafa Benitez in July. He tried to change the system and play Miguel Almiron off Joelinton. That didn’t work.
Bruce – who changed formation twice in Saturday’s goalless draw against Brighton and Hove Albion – needs to find a way of playing – and an identity.
Bruce had high hopes for Jonjo Shelvey this season. The midfielder, seemingly hampered by a long-term thigh injury, has disappointed so far this season.
Sean Longstaff could be back for Sunday’s televised game against Leicester City at the King Power Stadium. If Longstaff is fit, then he must surely play ahead of Shelvey.
Bruce can change personnel and systems, but the only thing that will change the mood in the stadium is wins. And it could get worse before it gets better given that the Leicester game is followed by a home fixture against Manchester United.
Bruce, at least, has time. He has Ashley’s backing, but the team needs to start making some progress on the field. If it doesn’t, the bookies’ odds on him losing his job will quickly tumble.