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George Caulkin and Alan Shearer have the advantage on Steve Bruce – Fans only have the facts…

2 years ago

I am questioning myself on Steve Bruce, in a certain way, up to a certain point.

Like most of you, I have developed an opinion of Bruce over the years.

He has been in management (which is what I am judging him on) for over 20 years and the picture I have built up is something like this.

Steve Bruce being somebody who has been a poor to average manager throughout his career, always going to have job offers somewhere but never threatening to do anything of note, no doubts thinks he should have had his chance at bigger clubs, as well as being a bit of a plastic Geordie with not the greatest character…

You then get a bit confused though when Steve Bruce gets the job at Newcastle United.

NUFC’s greatest living legend and the region’s most trusted journalist speaking so highly of him…

George Caulkin in The Times:

‘…a small illustration of the kind of man Bruce is; considerate, helpful and fundamentally decent.

None of which are qualifications to manage Newcastle United, although that is precisely the point.

The people who say that Bruce is not good enough for Newcastle have got it all wrong; he is too good. Way too good for Mike Ashley’s works team.’

Alan Shearer talking to The Sun:

‘Steve is his own man and I respect that. I can’t tell him what to do, even though he is a good friend of mine.

He is very hard-working and a genuine, honest guy, who wears his heart on his sleeve. He is a brilliant man-­manager and is always very popular with players.

I like him a lot and I actually admire him for having the balls to take the job on. But I just really hope that he doesn’t live to regret it like I fear he will.’

I start to think, have I got it wrong?

A lot of other people, many of them also credible, also speak highly of Steve Bruce.

I must admit that when I watched his interview on the club website today, I thought he did come over well, kind of fitting in with what the likes of Alan Shearer and George Caulkin were saying.

However, what I am reconsidering, possibly, is Steve Bruce the man, not Steve Bruce the manager (or head coach…).

Which is the whole point really because as fans we only have the facts, the stats, to judge him on. We aren’t his mates or journalists who have had regular contact with NUFC’s new man.

So whilst I respect the Shearer/Caulkin opinions on Bruce’s character and personality, I do think they let that closeness blur their judgement when it comes to what is really important, at least to us as Newcastle fans.

We get it that they like him and feel a need to stick up for Steve Bruce but I am yet to see any kind of a decent argument even trying to convince us that he should ever have been considered for the job.

Whilst they tell us what a good bloke he is, as Newcastle fans we simply see somebody who has a record of winning only 110 games of the 392 he has taken charge of in the Premier League, a win ratio of 28.1%.

Of  the managers to have 250 or more PL games behind them, only Bryan Robson has an even more disastrous record, winning just 26.8% of his PL matches as a manager.

It is the same when it comes to points per game and goals for and against per game in the Premier League, the stats are woeful and he is even miles adrift of the likes of JFK, Pardew and McClaren, not even remotely close, never mind what Kevin Keegan or Rafa Benitez has achieved.

It is also surely a little bit uncomfortable for the likes of Alan Shearer and George Caulkin even when they are bigging up Bruce’s character, not really acknowledging his pretty shocking record when it comes to dropping a club when a better offer comes along.

Not only the absolutely shocking way he has behaved towards Sheffield Wednesday, just look at this BBC Sport graphic showing his managerial record…

As you can see, quite astonishing how often he has walked out on clubs so soon after joining, when a better offer has come along.

At the end of the day, like all football fans I wouldn’t really care about his character if Steve Bruce was delivering where it matters, but his career/CV in no way points to why he should now be at St James Park or will feasibly be successful.


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