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Opinion

The bizarre PR spin attempting to prop up Steve Bruce at Newcastle United

3 weeks ago
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In the ongoing Mike Ashley – Rafa Benitez – Steve Bruce – NUFC fans saga, the media support for Bruce strikes me as odd.

It goes way beyond defending an old pal – be this genuine or because of a PR paid free lunch and /or brown envelope. It even goes on to supporting Mike Ashley.

This is weird because many in the media would love to bring him down as the pantomime villain of austerity capitalism.

The spin and propaganda then goes on to attack the fans.

Luke Edwards, in The Telegraph, put forward an ‘analysis’ claiming some Newcastle fans actually wanted Bruce to fail and were demonstrating confirmation bias. He condescendingly explained that this meant only accepting evidence that confirmed Bruce to be a bad manager.

Of course, confirmation bias would require you to ignore all the evidence that Steve Bruce is a good manager. Luke conveniently failed to mention what all these positives were that the fans were ignoring.

In fairness to critical Newcastle fans, they have generally acknowledged an Ok first half, at home, against an understrength Arenal team. Bruce, unchallenged by the media, has now referred to the whole game as ‘very, very positive’. We all know what happened in the second half, as well as what happened at Norwich.

Untroubled by in-depth analysis, Louise Taylor recently kept up the psychological approach in The Guardian, by claiming: even for a ‘traditionally volatile club… supporter reaction to two defeats… has felt a little hysterical’. From broadcast media to the broadsheets, the propaganda and spin is everywhere.

And it is, without doubt, propaganda and spin. It is rhetorical device rather than reasoned argument.

Every piece will have one sentence acknowledging in some way: that Ashley is unliked; Rafa was popular; the squad is weak; Bruce’s Premier League record isn’t that good; the performances have been poor etc. This sentence is a rhetorical device to show how reasonable the propagandist is. It’s often at the beginning to set up the BUT… blah blah blah Bruce good, Ashley trying his best, Rafa flawed, fans to blame bulls..t. Sometimes it’s just buried in the middle.

All these propaganda pieces have this simple statement of facts that roughly represents the fans’ views. Yet these facts are then ignored and the fans are attacked. Why?

I believe the fans must have done something wrong.

Luke Edwards is correct when he says some Newcastle fans want their club to lose. That is not a fact the Premier League wants to hear. The fact must be denied – I can hear Alan Brazil frothing at the mouth as I type, ‘No, no, no, I’m not having it, not having it, no fan could ever want their team to lose.’ And the fans must be attacked and blamed for not supporting their club.

But Newcastle fans have done something even naughtier than this. They have worked out Mike Ashley’s business model. They have stopped supporting Newcastle United because they no longer see it as Newcastle United. The club is in a competitive league, but it is no longer a sporting entity. It exists solely to promote Sports Direct.com. The footballing model is to finish 17th to 15th (with an accepted risk of relegation) to support the business model as cheaply as possible.

That doesn’t just take the gloss off the Premier League, it questions its whole sporting integrity. It cannot be seen as a competitive league if a component part has no wish to compete.

If you call out Mike Ashley’s Newcastle United, you call out the Premier League Product. That cannot be done.

It opens up an appalling vista.

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