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Opinion

What if this is as good as it gets with Steve Bruce?

2 years ago
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After being turned over at Anfield, Steve Bruce said of Liverpool, ‘They are as good as you can get.’

A few things immediately stuck in my mind on reading that.

One, there might be some truth in it.

But two, did he have to say it?

And three, did he have to be so gushing? ‘They are a very, very good side which will cause any team problems. They are as good as you get. They are fantastic.’

And of course, four, it’s just part of the manager’s excuses. If it’s not the players not being good enough on the day, it’s the opposition being permanently too good.

Throw in a crucial missed shot here with a few bad refereeing decisions there and it is never the manager’s fault.

There’s some truth but a lot of spin and you keep the nuclear option of admitting personal fault for the end – when you have to plead for more time, or resign with dignity.

His ‘honesty’ also helps the Steve Bruce is a decent fellow narrative in a friendly media.

But it’s still wrong. If you are so ready with such praise for the opposition and excuses for yourself after the game, you were probably beaten before you started. Liverpool are doing a good job generating their own sense of invincibility. You don’t help the ba..ards by buying into it.

I’m not a rugby fan but I like the Harinordoquy story.

In 2003 England were preparing to play France. The French had, what was regarded as, the best back row in world rugby, including a young beast of a man called Imanol Harinordoquy. From within the England camp, the players themselves started calling him Harry Ordinary.

You need that who the fu.. is he, who the fu.. are they, attitude to go into battle.

When Alex Ferguson arrived at Old Trafford, he didn’t wax lyrical about a fantastic, invincible Liverpool side; he set about knocking them off their fu..ing perch. That’s what winners do.

As a manager, Steve Bruce is not a winner. He’s had more opportunities than most and will always jump ship for a better offer – but bottom of the Premier League or top of the Championship has been his level. Mid-table in the Championship is probably his current level. It’s where the Good Ship Ashley plucked him from.

Before joining Newcastle, his top tier record was 1.12 points per game.

What if this is as good as it gets?

Imagine looking across to Steve Bruce in the technical area, during any game, and asking yourself that question. And the answer is that it is as good as it gets. It doesn’t get any better.

Brucey backs himself at 1.12 points per game, and Ashley backs Brucey because that would give 42 or 43 points a season, and that avoids relegation which is all he wants, and that’s what we get (at best) every year until people retire or die.

You ask yourself: What if this is as good as it gets? – during that rubbish drive to work on a Wednesday morning, or when you’re stuck in a hospital waiting room. Football was meant to lift you above all that, not give you more of the same.

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