Get your daily update and weekly newsletter by signing up today!


Looking back at these Gary Neville astoundingly inaccurate summer views on Rafa and Steve Bruce

2 years ago

It is fair to say this Sunday’s Newcastle United v Manchester United game has a feeling of do or die for Steve Bruce, even this early in the season.

Fan apathy is already at toxic levels and will only be increased if we keep putting in pitiful performances, such as those in the last two weeks.

If Bruce doesn’t want to be the pressure to become unbearable, he needs to least get some sort of cohesion coaxed out of the 11 players he selects on Sunday. Even if they don’t win the game they have to at least show some application and desire. None was on show last Sunday against Leicester.

As this game is televised and against one of the so called “big six” (I hate using this term, particularly considering they won’t finish as the top six this season) I expect some lazy punditry to be a feature of Sunday. Though I could be wrong, it certainly wouldn’t be the first time.

In pre-season Sky Sports were hosting a debate with ‘A grade’ pundits Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher, when the topic of conversation shifted onto relegation candidates. Rightly, we were mentioned, but both Neville and Carragher pushed with the “it’s time to get behind Steve Bruce” party line, which I expect more of on Sunday, despite our terrible start to the season.

Steve Bruce has his friends in the media, many spoke of what a ‘safe’ appointment he was, perhaps overlooking the fact he has been relegated twice, and was unable to get an expensively assembled Villa team out of the Championship.

Watching it back, Neville, who is normally one of the better pundits on Sky, goes even further with some astoundingly inaccurate views regarding the appointment of Bruce and our discontent over the departure of Rafa Benitez.

“I thought he (Rafa Benitez) was having you over me. I thought he was having you over.

“I thought the minute it got tough or he got an offer from another club he would have gone.

“I think he played the game and I thought until Klopp started doing well at Liverpool, he was flirting with them all the time.

“I didn’t think he was being true to the traditions of the club, of the city.”

A few points to unpick straight away.

In regards to Rafa waiting for an offer “when things got tough”, Neville probably needs to be reminded that things were extremely tough for the vast majority of Benitez’s time in charge of NUFC. Particularly in our first season back in the top flight, when he had a thin squad for much of the season, and we had awful patches of form.

He stuck with us, in spite of little/no support from the boardroom.

As for traditions, that basically refers to the Kevin Keegan era. Of course the early 90s, King Kev’s first spell, are a huge part of our club’s history, but I don’t believe that suddenly means we have some engraved philosophy of attacking, exciting football. We had that for just under five years, out of what is now a 127 year history of Newcastle United.

The fact that Rafa Benitez didn’t play attacking football made no difference to me, or the vast majority of fans who love the man. It was about him restoring some pride and organisation on the pitch, certainly compared with the years that preceded his reign. Unfortunately, it looks like we might now be back to the sort of shambles we were in before Rafa arrived on Barrack Road.

Gary Neville then goes onto say;

“Every time I went up to Newcastle over a two year period, I was bored.

“The place should be mad. It should exciting.”

This sort of cavalier attitude shows real arrogance.

What it translates as is we should be exciting for neutrals even if it means we eventually go down. Typical Newcastle. It gives the media a good story if we struggle and have huge problems as supporters, with those running/within the club.

Sometimes the outside impression of Newcastle fans is completely untrue, highlighted by Neville’s comments here. No, we do not want to see a 4-3 defeat rather than a dour 0-0. No, we do not have a burning desire to be in relegation battles, as long we have exciting players.

Benitez got the maximum and a little more out of the tools at his disposal, the results and lack of investment in the side over the three years he was in charge, point to a manager who had earned and deserved our support.

We should not be expected to get behind Bruce at any costs. If results and performances are unacceptable he will feel the wrath of supporters quickly, like Carver and McClaren did, and rightly so.

Whatever happens Sunday, something tells me he will have support from the pundits in the studio at full time.

You can follow the author on Twitter @JackLaceySport


If you would like to feature on The Mag, submit your article to [email protected]

Have your say

© 2021 The Mag. All Rights Reserved. Design & Build by Mediaworks