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Opinion

This was said about Steve Bruce in 2011 after Sunderland forced to sack him – Ringing true now…?

1 year ago
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As I sat in the local drinking establishment on Sunday at around 4:20, having filled up on a lovely Sunday lunch and a glass of finest red, I couldn’t help but wonder what lay in store for the Newcastle side that were taking to the field down at the King Power Stadium.

Despite thinking a defeat was coming, I reassured myself that as professional footballers (ha) and coaches (ha, ha) there would at least be a match worth watching.

This is a regular scenario for me on a weekend.

If I’m off work, I’ll watch any match. I would have been watching Sheffield United v Liverpool on Saturday, or Manchester United v Arsenal on Monday evening, but sadly I was at graft.

This weekend my day off just so happened to fall on Sunday so I had a chance to watch the Newcastle game. I hadn’t seen one live since the opening day defeat against Arsenal, so with a full belly and a full wallet, I set off with no expectation and no optimism. Still, at least there will be a game worth watching.

Bo..ocks! For a game of football to pass by without anything to get even remotely positively wound up about is quite frankly shameful. From the first minute I couldn’t work out what anyone in black and white was meant to be doing, what the game plan was. Even the red card failed to stir anything other than beer fuddled acceptance. It WAS a sending off, a blatant red card and if the boot was on the other foot and a Leicester player going in like that on a Newcastle player, I’d be screaming blue murder.

I said earlier in the season that as soon as the opposition score the game will usually be up, as we simply won’t be scoring two goals. Look at the games, we simply don’t create anything, don’t retain enough possession, we score a solitary goal at best and allow teams to steamroller us and boy did Leicester take advantage of our extra man. The truth being, the game was already up at 0-1.

I stated weeks ago that this has all the hallmarks of the Steve McClaren debacle and nothing has changed. Well maybe a little has.

This is actually turning into something much worse. The McClaren team could actually score a goal or two now and then. The lack of organisation seen this season so far is frankly quite shocking. We’ve had tactical change after tactical change, a reaction to some stunningly low possession figures and we’ve started to see the tonkings that were a staple of both the Alan Pardew and Steve McClaren reigns.

On the basis of what we saw while he was at Newcastle you would never call McClaren a clever manager/coach, far from it, but from people who had worked with him, it was a different story. People used to say he was a good coach, Sir Alex Ferguson certainly thought so which is why he was his Assistant Manager around the time they won the treble. You don’t hear such stories about Steve Bruce, so you have to go on what he’s said and done in the past.

A quick google search and you can find an article from The Guardian way back in 2011 entitled ‘Steve Bruce Was A Manager Who Refused To Move With The Times‘. It was written by north-east journalist Louise Taylor (Sunderland fan apparently) and the article is quite damning when held up in today’s context. Do yourselves a favour and look it up. The similarities are frightening.

This is the man who once said ‘I’m not really into tactics‘ while in charge of the unwashed down the road. Unbelievable! Maybe over the intervening years his stance had changed? Managers/coaches can change, they can move with the times, can’t they? Not so in Bruce I’m afraid.

The article points out that Bruce has ‘ . . an inability to tweak formations or tactics during matches’. It goes on to point out that at the time, managers ‘out thought’ him. Not just any managers but Mark Hughes, Roy Hodgson and a certain Alan Pardew. If those luminaries were out thinking that of Brucie way back in 2011, then Newcastle in 2019 REALLY ARE in trouble.

Taylor also states that the mackems were dropping points ‘against supposedly weaker sides they really should have beaten’. Starting to sound familiar?

The journalist also says that Bruce wasn’t much of a ‘strategist’, didn’t develop ‘a clear playing philosophy’ and that his sides (brace yourselves) ‘lacked creativity (and) control in central midfield’ and were ‘unable to dictate play’.

This is damning but it goes on. The writer says that players were rushed back from injuries only to suffer further complications. These similarities with his very short time at Newcastle should have sent alarm bells ringing with anyone who dared to consider him for employment.

From what I’ve seen in the opening eight games of his tenure here and from what I already saw as an observer, the only coaching role Steve Bruce should have any links with regarding Newcastle is driving the one that takes the players to and from games.

I’ve already said this season that I doubt that Mike Ashley (who is the man most at fault in all of this) WON’T pull the trigger until it is undeniably too late. The sad sight of Steve Bruce appearing in front of the cameras to explain himself after the 5-0 trouncing on Monday night wasn’t without it’s impact. I honestly had a little bit of sympathy for him, honestly I did. Nobody likes being knocked from pillar to post without good reason. I’ll blame the fifth pint of Moretti.

Sadly, Bruce was pre-warned by Alan Shearer about all this coming home to roost, maybe with a hint of ‘You’re just not up to it Steve!’

At present, the teams that have come up from the Championship are making a better fist of staying in the division than we are. The amount of teams that will finish below us is diminishing by the week.

In his post-match comments, Bruce talked about the many things that went wrong against Leicester, maybe add them to the list of things that didn’t go right against Brighton, Watford, Norwich and Arsenal.

‘I’ve heard a lot of nonsense about tactics’ he said on Sunday night.

Maybe you should start listening to some of the ‘nonsense,’ Steve!

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