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Opinion

Steve Bruce makes his point…’You are only as good as your strikers’

2 months ago
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As weeks go, this last one (or even the last fortnight) has really done it for me.

Let me be clear, I don’t like Steve Bruce. It’s nothing new, I didn’t like him back in 2004 when he first appeared on the radar with regards to being Sir Bobby Robson’s long term successor. Oh how we shuddered back then.

Every subsequent sacking at Newcastle United has seen his name inevitably linked with our vacant managerial position and every time, I along with the majority of the fanbase, have given off the same shudder.

I’d nailed my colours to the mast and said that if Rafa Benitez was dismissed from St James Park (ie not retained) last summer then that would be the clearest signal of a total lack of ambition beyond mere survival under Mike Ashley. I wasn’t to be disappointed when summer came and went.

Now I knew that Steve Bruce wouldn’t be the politician that Benitez was, Rafa was a master at that. I knew that he was being brought in to coach the team and do as he’s told and nothing more. That was abundantly clear and amazingly backed up by the man himself when he actually said that he won’t be Mike Ashley’s ‘Puppet’. Who says things like that unless they are very well aware that they are going to be so? It wouldn’t be the last verbal faux pas that Bruce would make. He does it on a weekly basis.

When I listen to Steve Bruce I genuinely don’t believe what I hear at times.

I usually avoid listening to him as what you hear/read often sounds ridiculous but this week he has gone and surpassed himself. Now there’s quite a bit to take in, so where do we start? Only one place really. If you haven’t already come across these quotes I suggest you brace yourself as they are quite astonishing.

“It has been difficult to dominate matches, we are not in a situation where we can dominate anybody.”– Steve Bruce

Ok, I take onboard some of that, it’s quite ok to let teams have the ball for long periods, especially when we are as good defensively as we are, but to say we can’t dominate ‘anybody’ is quite a remarkable statement to make. If only he had stopped there in his pre-Oxford press conference.

“We hope we can dominate Oxford” – Steve Bruce

Excuse me? Run that by me again. We ‘hope’ that we can dominate ‘Oxford’? If this clown can’t get a side set up to dominate a league one team then he really shouldn’t be in the job. But then again, we failed to beat them at the first attempt at St James’ last week where Bruce The Excuse came out and said that we ‘basically didn’t do enough’ and that it was a ‘poor performance all round’.

If only it was a one-off. Against Norwich, the Canaries were the side doing all the probing and at one point the corner count was staggeringly high in their favour. I give up on the possession stats as we never seem to have much, often coming in below 35%. Still, Bruce The Excuse again said that ‘We haven’t played well again’ and ‘haven’t done enough’. You’d think he’d do something about it on the training ground, IF he knew how that is.

The awful 90 minutes that was the Everton away game was glossed over by the fact we came back to draw but Bruce skirts round that shocking performance because we unbelievably managed to nick the draw and that game was only matched by the previous weekend’s win against Chelsea, with the stats shockingly in Chelsea’s favour. This all adds to the numerous times we’ve seen full games where we have barely had a shot on target. How can a team be so bad so often (even in the Head Coach’s own words) and still hover around mid-table and still be in the FA Cup in February?

Back in the summer, Bruce went to great lengths to say that he was happy with the squad he had available, no doubt in an attempt to appease his glorious employer. Still think you’re not a puppet Steve?

He said after a pre-season friendly against St Etienne ‘You are only as good as your strikers’. Well for once Steve I agree with you, but bearing in mind that we have two crocks and a striker who isn’t a striker AND that he knew all this back in August, his credibility was always going to be in serious question on that.

Mind you, he also stated in pre-season (and I wish I was making these comments up) that Joelinton would ‘be a big hit’, that he ‘would be an effective number 9’ and that he’s ‘not your typical Brazilian’. On that last comment, I’m starting to agree with him some more.

After the game against Norwich:

“The most important thing is we haven’t played well again but we haven’t been beaten.”

The fact that he says the word ‘again’ should be the moment the penny drops even for him but sadly we don’t seem to see improvement week on week. He also makes a mockery of the transfer window, where despite the decent acquisition of Danny Rose, no striker was brought in when every man and his dog INCLUDING THE HEAD COACH knows the situation up front is dire. Still, apparently: “There was nobody out there that could have improved us.” Shut up Steve, you’re getting embarrassing.

So across the whole of world football, across every continent and domestic league on the planet, there was ‘nobody’, nobody who could have improved on two crocks and a (so far) one goal a season £40m forward? You’ve lost me Steve.

But wait, is it because the owner of the club hasn’t allowed him to spend money and that’s the reason a striker couldn’t be sourced?

Nope! Because this week the Corbridge Cabbage was at it again. He stated that: “We had a bid accepted that would have nearly got us to our record transfer eight days ago but the player wanted to stay where he was,” That player was heavily rumoured to be Boubakary Soumare at a cost of £35m (supposedly £45m including add-ons) from Lille. So there was apparently £35m available (if you believe that) to buy a midfielder but we couldn’t find a striker for such a figure? Poppycock!

“There wasn’t a striker to be had at that money. Who can we buy who can make a difference to us? There simply isn’t anyone who is better than what we’ve got, in my opinion.”– Steve Bruce

Dear oh dear, give the man a gobstopper, he gets worse.

As an aside, the fact that Saint Maximin and Florien Lejeune sent Soumare a Facetime video of the facilities at the club training ground in a bid to convince their fellow Frenchman, who then quickly said ‘Au Revoir’ to the deal, should not be lost on supporters when put into context with quotes from Chief Numpty Lee Charnley who stated last summer in reference to Rafa Benitez’ pleas for improvements:”No player has turned around and said that they won’t sign because of the training ground.”

You really couldn’t make this sort of stuff up.

The credibility and reputations of the owner and his Managing Director were shot to pieces years ago but for such poor Head Coach to be in charge of things at Newcastle United simply beggars belief.

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