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Steve Bruce v Rafa Benitez

3 years ago

A lot of football commentators and pundits have been comparing Steve Bruce to Rafa Benitez.

Jumping to the conclusion that Steve Bruce has done a better job at Newcastle United.

So I have decided to look at their two records in more depth.


This is the main reason why some pundits believe/claim that Steve has the edge over Rafa.

It’s true that Newcastle have more points than they had at a similar stage in previous seasons. However, under Rafa we enjoyed good second halves to the seasons, especially last season when a fully fit Salomon Rondon bolstered our attack.

2-1 to Steve

Results against our rivals

One of the ways Rafa ensured Premier League survival was by coming out on top in those games against the other struggling teams.

Last season we lost only one game against the bottom six teams in the table. This season we’ve already lost three.

2-1 to Rafa


Under both managers we have had surprising wins against top six clubs, as well as some stirring comebacks along with a lot of dour, defensive performances.

However, last season under Rafa we had performances where we were able to dominate the opposition and came out the clear winners (Southampton and Cardiff at home, Fulham away).

Under Steve we haven’t even been able to do that when we are playing against lower league opposition.

2-1 to Rafa


I was lucky enough to go to Rafa’s last game in charge against Fulham and it was clear that we were a well-drilled team that was solid in defence, carried an attacking threat and where every player knew his role.

Under Steve it has sometimes been difficult to work out what the tactics are, other than defending deep and hoping Miggy or Allan will create something on the break.

The parts of the team that have worked best (the defence) is where Steve has stuck to Rafa’s tactics and where he has used the players Rafa brought to the club, such as Clark, Fernandez and Dubravka.

2-0 to Rafa

Player Recruitment

Although there were some players that didn’t work out for Rafa (Murphy, Muto), overall he did really well on a very restricted budget, bringing in some quality players for bargain prices such as Dubravka, Schar, Fernandez, Lejeune and Hayden.

It is more difficult to judge Steve Bruce as we don’t know how much say he has about player recruitment and the pre-season deals were set up before he arrived.

However, the fact that he keeps saying that he is happy with the business we’ve done in the transfer market means that he must actually think that Joelinton was worth the £43m/£40m we allegedly paid for him, whereas he doesn’t think Jarrod Bowen is worth £20m.

I wonder which player will prove to be the better bargain by the end of the season?

2-1 to Rafa

Player Development

Under Rafa it was possible to see players such as Paul Dummett and Jamaal Lascelles developing and he also spotted and then brought on the likes of Sean Longstaff.

Under Steve Bruce the likes of Sean Longstaff and Jamaal Lascelles seem to be going backwards, Joelinton still doesn’t look anything like a Premiership centre forward and he seems content to leave the future of one young player who had broken through this season, in the incompetent hands of Lee Charnley.

2-0 to Rafa


I guess that one of the reason that Steve Bruce gets a lot of favourable coverage is because he’s amiable and is prepared to open up to the press.

Unfortunately, this also means you hear him echoing the club’s PR and spouting a load of nonsense.

His latest comments about how the team needed to improve it’s creativity, rather than it’s forwards, was a case in point. If a team doesn’t create many chances, then surely you have a greater need for competent forwards who can make the most of the limited opportunities, but if we did create more chances you’d still need a forward who would regularly put those chances away!

Rafa might not have been quite so forthcoming at press conferences but at least he was prepared to stand up to the charlatans who run our football club and he wasn’t prepared to just echo their PR.

2-1 to Rafa

Final score

Rafa Benitez 13 v Steve Bruce 6

Although Steve Bruce might not be a bad manager, he is not in the same league as Rafa Benitez.


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