Newcastle United

Newcastle United: Lee Ryder discusses Steve Bruce’s team selection

Image for Newcastle United: Lee Ryder discusses Steve Bruce’s team selection

Newcastle United journalist Lee Ryder has given his view on ’s team selection following their game against United on Sunday.

Despite taking the lead twice against the Hammers, Newcastle United fell to a 4-2 defeat in their first game of the Premier League season, with goals from Callum Wilson and not enough to stop David Moyes’ side taking all three points.

And whenever you concede four goals, there’s always likely to be questions about what happened at the back, and that is exactly what Ryder did after the game.

Speaking about the game on the Podcast on the Newcastle United – Chronicle Facebook page, he questioned the decision to leave club captain Jamaal Lascelles on the bench and instead play defender Ciaran Clark:

“I thought it was a big call from Steve Bruce, because to bench your captain is a big one. And Ciaran Clark, they were probably neck-and-neck to play today, and Ciaran Clark got the nod, and I’m sure all the defenders can look back at today and think they could have done a lot better.

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“It’s easy to say now, but yeah, Lascelles may well find himself walking straight back in the team after this.”

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It may seem like an odd decision to leave the captain on the bench for the game, but when you look at the stats when it came down to last season, it really was a no-brainer when it came to their respective abilities.

As per WhoScored, Clark actually beat Lascelles out in a lot of defensive categories last season including 1.1 tackles per game to 0.7, 1.3 interceptions to 0.6, 4.5 clearances to 4.4, while only on blocks were they level by a score of 0.9 each. That’s not to mention passing as well, where Clark averaged an 81.5% accuracy, compared to Lascelles’ 80.2% from fewer attempts per game.

So if Lascelles is to come into the team next week, perhaps with Bruce looking to add more leadership to the backline from his skipper, the numbers show that it shouldn’t necessarily be Clark that should be the one that should make way for the captain.

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Freelance sports journalist & broadcaster.