Newcastle make ‘out of control’ release clause admission but Amanda Staveley sees trump card

You suspect Bruno Guimaraes could have stayed out there a little while longer. After throwing his shirt into the crowd, the bare-chested midfielder was the last man off the pitch following Newcastle United’s 5-1 win against Sheffield United at St James’ Park. Bruno was still applauding, still slapping his heart, as Geordies chanted the Brazil international’s name long after the final whistle on Saturday.

Those chants filled the air before kick-off, too, on an afternoon Wor Flags showed Bruno and countryman Joelinton ‘how much they’re loved’ with a huge Brazilian flag display in the Gallowgate End. Bruno felt he had to repay the fans with a goal and the 26-year-old was a man of his word. “The fans have given me so much,” he told NUFC TV. “I’ve never felt so loved.”

Bruno’s suitors can offer Champions League football, the chance to immediately challenge for major trophies and even bigger wages, but the playmaker would struggle to find the adulation he enjoys on Tyneside. That still feels like a trump card of sorts.

READ MORE: Bruno makes feelings clear and Newcastle have last laugh after Sheffield United taunt – 5 things

READ MORE: Newcastle United vs Sheffield United highlights

Although Howe was the first to recognise that Bruno’s £100m release clause leaves Newcastle ‘slightly out of control’ until the final days of June, the Magpies boss also spoke about how the club ‘have to showcase what we can offer him’. The fans certainly did their bit on Saturday as owners Amanda Staveley and Mehrdad Ghodoussi watched on.

“Our job is to try and make him as happy as we can, give him the best opportunity to play his best football, try and create a team that he enjoys playing in and look after him off the pitch,” Howe told reporters. “The fact he has a great relationship with the supporters absolutely helps us. We will do everything we can to try and meet his needs here.”

As far as Howe is concerned, that means ‘maintaining our drive, our ambition’ and ‘keeping the momentum very strong’. To prove to Bruno that, even with financial restrictions, Newcastle can still be the ‘big power’ the owners were ‘very up front about’, in the midfielder’s own words, when he joined the club in 2022.

Qualifying for Europe again following a campaign ravaged by injuries would be a start and this win saw Newcastle move within just a point of sixth-placed Manchester United after the black-and-whites, eventually, bounced back from a midweek defeat at Crystal Palace. Even after the worst possible start against a side desperate to avoid the defeat that would relegate them.

Newcastle take pride in their own set-piece routines, but the sleepy hosts were undone by a play straight from Sheffield United’s training ground. Ollie Arblaster went short and the ball eventually came out to Gustavo Hamer, who had all the time he needed to take a touch and swing the ball into the box. There was Anel Ahmedhodzic to ghost into a huge gap and head Sheffield United in front. St James’ was in a state of shock. “Champions League? You’re having a laugh!” the away end taunted.

Howe, for his part, looked furious as he barked: “COME ON! WIN THE BALL!” a few minutes later, but Newcastle did not awaken from their slumber. In fact, Sheffield United came mightily close to making it 2-0 when a long ball into the left channel sent Cameron Archer on a footrace with Fabian Schar. Archer cut inside Schar far too easily and only a block from Dan Burn prevented the Sheffield United forward from scoring.

Alexander Isak of Newcastle United celebrates scoring his team’s first goal with teammate Dan Burn

At the other end, Newcastle, damningly, had failed to even test the worst defence in Premier League history in the opening stages. They finally did so midway through the first half when Jacob Murphy slipped a ball in behind Sheffield United’s defence for Isak to latch onto and the club’s top scorer fired home much to Geordies’ relief.

However, Newcastle did not build on that goal before the break. In fact, it was Chris Wilder’s team who came closest to taking the lead when the galloping Arblaster cut Newcastle’s defence open and threaded the ball through to Ben Brereton Diaz. The striker rounded Dubravka and looked like he was about to pass the ball into the empty net – only for the sliding Burn to get back to make another crucial block.

Mason Holgate then struck the post from the resulting corner before Andre Brooks lashed the ball wide on the rebound. Somehow, it was still 1-1 and it was Newcastle, rather than Sheffield United, who looked in need of a reshuffle at half-time.

Howe delivered a wake-up call at the break and Newcastle were soon in front. There were 54 minutes on the clock when Anthony Gordon floated a free-kick towards the back post and Bruno’s diving header gave Newcastle the lead for the first time.

Newcastle quickly doubled their advantage after the Magpies were awarded a penalty following Holgate’s foul on Gordon inside the box. Up stepped Alexander Isak and the record signing found the bottom corner to make it 3-1.

It was about to get even worse for Sheffield United midway through the second half. Gordon’s corner caused havoc inside the box and Ben Osborn could only divert the ball into his own net.

That was the cue for Howe to throw on both Harvey Barnes and Callum Wilson and there was still plenty of time for the substitutes to combine for a fifth. Barnes drove at the heart of Sheffield United’s defence and clipped the ball into Wilson’s path inside the box. The number nine did the rest with a trademark finish.

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