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Opinion

No wonder the journalists love Steve Bruce

3 weeks ago
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By all accounts Steve Bruce is a canny bloke.

When Newcastle fans were shocked to see him arrive in place of Rafa Benitez, plenty high profile people were quick to defend him.

People who had/have bucket loads of credibility with Newcastle supporters.

For starters, Alan Shearer, Rob Lee and Lee Clark are all close personal friends and were keen to say that Steve Bruce could be a big success with Newcastle and pointed to his record in the past.

Obviously they didn’t dwell too much on that because he has achieved so little at a high level but we were given the usual ‘years of experience in the Premier League’, did better than expected at times with poor teams/clubs such as Hull, Birmingham and Sunderland.

However, the main defence of Bruce was mainly really all about him as a person, a good bloke who cared about Newcastle.

Pretty much a description that would fit most of your mates as well!

Though you won’t want them to manage (head coach) Newcastle United either.

Difficult of course for the likes of Shearer to say anything different when it is a close friend, as even if you are trying to be professional you can’t help your personal feelings/bias coming into it, even if it is subconsciously.

Which brings me to the journalists covering Newcastle United.

With very rare exceptions they have tended to go way over the top with any positives there have been under Steve Bruce and dilute the negatives, very rarely ever criticising Bruce himself when things have been really bad.

As it stands the stats are shocking. At Stamford Bridge Newcastle hardly even got out of their half and had not one corner or shot on target.

The thing is, this isn’t a one-off, as all season Newcastle have been laid out so negatively by Steve Bruce and struggled to create chances against anybody, apart from a 15 minute spell in the second half against Watford when NUFC had four or five shots in quick succession, I can’t remember anything similar in any game.

Newcastle have the least possession of all clubs and it is the same when it comes to creating chances, scoring goals and touches of the ball in the opposition penalty area.

In most games the team have battled away but Norwich, Watford, Leicester and Brighton all looked better than Newcastle.

The draws against Watford and Brighton were very lucky, as were the two victories. Newcastle battled hard against Spurs and Man Utd but to get two wins from three shots on target (one against Man Utd and two against Spurs) can’t be called anything but lucky. You loved the effort and commitment AND the wins BUT at the same time, you have to hold your hands up and say it is fortunate when you win despite creating next to nothing. Defending all game isn’t a game plan it is just desperation.

Despite Man Utd and Spurs having their worst ever seasons for a long time, the journalists still all pretty much unanimously push this ‘look at all the big six teams Newcastle have played’…they might be ‘big six’ clubs but they haven’t shown themselves to be ‘big six’ teams this season and end of last one.

Tottenham have only won five of their last 22 matches in all competitions and Man Utd only three of their last 14 games. Man U had most of their good players missing at St James Park and Arsenal played a near reserve team as we caught them at a good time, yet didn’t force their keeper into a difficult save.

This season, ‘big six’ clubs Man Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal and Spurs have only won 14 of their combined 34 Premier League games this season, this hasn’t been like in the past. Only Liverpool have been dominant and Man City to an extent, give or take a couple of off days.

Yet Newcastle journalists insist on NUFC having played the ‘name’ and not the players on the actual pitch. Chelsea were decent yesterday but they have conceded 19 goals this season and are fragile at the back, yet Steve Bruce never allowed his team to try and attack them properly. Norwich and Sheffield United each scored twice against them, Newcastle should have had a go, not just sitting back and waiting for the inevitable.

Yet the journalists are still very sparing of their criticism for Steve Bruce.

It no longer surprises me and I think I know what the biggest factor is in that.

They like Steve Bruce and even if only subconsciously, it gets in the way of them properly seeing what is in front of them.

Just look at his press conferences, just like many other English/British/Irish old school type of managers/head coaches, Steve Bruce has a good rapport with them and talks and talks, gives them loads of stories.

Does their jobs for them really.

Rafa Benitez used to talk a lot but never really used to say much in press conferences. I found them really boring to be honest, not that it bothered it me, All I was concerned about was what happened on the pitch.

However, just imagine being a journalist and coming away from the press conference after Rafa has yet again given nothing away, says that he and the team are going to ‘keep pushing’, refusing to talk about anything that has gone on behind the scenes, protecting his players and keeping it in-house.

Compare that to a Pardew, Carver, McClaren or indeed, Steve Bruce. If you were a journalist what would you rather have?

Imagine if instead of an old school manager like Bruce, Newcastle had gone for a foreign boss who spoke little/no English.

Brief press conferences and next to nothing to write about.

The journalists like Steve Bruce, they are matey with him, he talks a lot, he tells them pretty much everything they want to hear and answers all their questions.

Never mind the value of what he says, the volume of it means they are never stuck for stories.

What is there not to like? For the journalists anyway…

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