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Opinion

As run of results get ever worse, the stories predictably begin to leak out of Newcastle United

4 weeks ago
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Well, the stories have finally started to emerge from Newcastle United just like we all knew they would.

It’s always the way, when there’s a happy camp the obligatory ‘club source’ is forever silent, tucked away with nothing to complain about and no juicy titbits to leak. Why release a scandal if everything’s hunky dory? Nobody will believe it and it won’t be sensational enough.

When there’s a crisis however, when things aren’t going too well, it happens everywhere.

Suddenly, so and so is unhappy, such and such isn’t working on the training ground and, the odd chestnut, injuries are suddenly ‘revealed’. Little knocks that players wouldn’t dream of even mentioning for fear of losing their place in the team are serious enough to keep a player out for longer than is humanly possible. The slightest tiff is suddenly ‘leaked’ to threaten whatever harmony is present in the dressing room and training ground.

Doesn’t happen when you’re winning games does it?

And so we have the story that Allan Saint-Maximin, dropped by Steve Bruce for Burnley at St James’ Park on Saturday because of a hamstring ‘injury’ is supposedly fully fit and able to play according to ‘sources’ in The Mail article. The angle being portrayed is that Bruce wanted to drop ASM due to concerns about his performances in training and that the best way of doing this was to manufacture the injury story to avoid criticism/fallout of merely dropping the player.

So (if true) Bruce thought it perfectly reasonable to make up an injury in order to ‘protect’ the player himself? Unbelievable! Imagine if it were a player doing that?

Cast your minds back to 2005.

Graeme Souness was the manager at the time, a manager with a far better track record than Steve Bruce I might add. It was shocking that he came in to replace Sir Bobby Robson, the then board were actually considering both Souness and our current Head Coach Steve Bruce as potential replacement. Oh the agony of choice.

The reason why I bring him up is the situation with Bruce and ASM mirrors what we saw in January 2005 with Souness and a similar star player in Craig Bellamy. Back then, Bellamy made the squad tick, he provided the legs for an ageing Alan Shearer, got the side forty yards up the pitch in a flash and despite his poor finishing, still nicked a few goals. The parallels with ASM are uncanny. Both have questionable temperaments and indeed I heard that was the reason we managed to get the Frenchman signed in the first place. But I digress.

The thing is, both players in their respective time periods, were shining lights in the side. For their faults, they were still the spark that ignited the season. We weren’t too great in 2005, the influence of Sir Bobby had been worn away quickly by Souness and despite his reputation as a disciplinarian, all wasn’t well within the camp and mouthy Bellamy was hardly going to mix with the managerial style of no-nonsense Souness.

This came to a head that year when Craig Bellamy was accused by Souness of feigning injury before a game away at Arsenal. Bellamy was rightly pilloried and looking back you’d be hard stretched to find a worse situation than a player feigning injury simply because he didn’t want to play in a position the manager wanted him to. That was to be shattered by the infamous Kieron Dyer/Lee Bowyer bust up on Souness’ watch but once again, I digress.

There should be no difference if it’s a Head Coach making up such a silly excuse instead of simply saying the player (Saint-Maximin) had been dropped for tactical reasons, or that he hadn’t been performing well enough in training. If the latter had been used as the reasoning then debate would obviously have been raised as to why arguably our best player is out of the side in a vital game that we needed to win but it has to be better than misleading everybody, something which Bruce The Excuse has form on.

The part where Bruce’s argument falls completely flat, becomes null and void, is in what happened with Saint-Maximin during the match against Burnley. The player CAME ON for the last 15 minutes. Once again, unbelievable!

If he has a knock that could be made worse, he doesn’t get on the bench let alone on the pitch.

Now we hear he’s still touch and go for West Brom in the cup tonight. But he played the final part of the match against Burnley, while supposedly injured? Let’s not forget it’s not the first time Bruce has completely mismanaged injuries in his time at the club so far. What sort of muppet do we have making the decisions around here?

The aside to all this is that once again Bruce is forced to play Joelinton no matter what and it was the Brazilian that should have made way and NOT Saint-Maximin.

We are in a terrible run of form at present, bottom of the form table. In our last six games we have the same form as Brighton (drawn three and lost two). Over the last ten games we rank bottom. Going into the run in that doesn’t bode well, especially considering that the teams below us are picking up wins from unlikely places. We aren’t even picking up wins.

Once again I point to the main problem and it’s Steve Bruce. The excuses, blaming fixture congestion, not so subtle digs at previous manager Rafa Benitez and the system he deployed (which ironically has gained him most of the current 32 points) are systematic of what happens when you put someone in charge who is out of his depth, so glad to have the job that he is willing to go along with ANYTHING, say ANYTHING, do ANYTHING, so long as the real fault is masked and criticism deflected from.

Above anything, that is owner Mike Ashley, we know that, but you’d be hard pressed to find a bigger clown than the one that inhabits the Head Coach’s role.

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