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Steve Bruce and Journalist ‘friend’ act out ‘Liar, Liar’ – What was actually said and done

1 month ago
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Steve Bruce sent his team out to attack on Tuesday night.

Away from the stresses of one win in ten in the Premier League, the NUFC Head Coach going more offensive against what was almost an entire second choice West Brom side, Slaven Bilic making nine changes and not shy afterwards to say promotion is the absolute priority.

It wasn’t only on the pitch where Steve Bruce went on the attack.

In the press conference after the game, it was great entertainment (for the rest of the media) as Bruce launched a (verbally) aggressive attack on Craig Hope of The Mail.

This was following a piece Craig Hope had written (see below) on Monday, in between the Burnley home match and last night’s game against West Brom.

Steve Bruce had said after Saturday’s game that ASM had been left out of the starting eleven against Burnley (though he got the final 12 minutes off the bench) because of injury problems/concerns, then stated on Monday at his pre-WBA press conference that ASM was again a doubt because of injury problems/concerns.

In his article, Hope said that ASM had actually been fully fit for Saturday and had been dropped by Steve Bruce. This fitting the belief of many Newcastle fans that Joelinton is undroppable on Ashley’s orders and so ASM had been dropped so the Brazilian could play on the left instead, with Gayle and Almiron up front.

Steve Bruce speaking at his press conference after Newcastle United’s FA Cup 3-2 win at West Brom – Tuesday 3 March 2020:

“He (Allan Saint-Maximin) was a doubt (for the West Brom match).

“It was nonsense written in a newspaper, that I’ve had a fallout with him. I don’t know where that come from.

“He didn’t train Sunday, we were wary of him, and you always have to be careful with the two hamstrings that he has had.

“He was sore on Thursday and that made my mind up to not risk him (against Burnley).

“But he trained yesterday (Monday) and declared himself right and that’s the way it was.”

Craig Hope (The Mail reporter in question) tries to ask a question but Steve Bruce interrupts him:

“I’m not going to answer you Craig, you’re just out to derail us, totally, it is total lies, it is nonsense.

“I’m glad your source is wrong.

(Steve Bruce then reacts as Craig Hope tries to say something and talks over him) “You calling me a liar? Is that what you are calling me?”

Craig Hope:

“Are you calling me a liar?”

Steve Bruce:

“Well your reporting was wrong.

“Well why can’t you…I’ve had no row with Saint-Maximin. None – (not) A bust-up.”

Craig Hope:

“Did the player say he was fit to start on Saturday?”

Steve Bruce:

“I didn’t ask that. You wrote that I had a bust-up, you wrote yesterday that I had a bust-up.”

Craig Hope:

“No I didn’t.”

Steve Bruce:

“Yes you did.”

Craig Hope:

“No I didn’t.”

Steve Bruce:

“Yes you did.”

Craig Hope:

“No I didn’t, the word bust-up wasn’t used. I didn’t use it.”

Steve Bruce:

“Wow. ‘We’ve had a bust-up’, that was the headline.”

Amongst the anger from Steve Bruce regarding whether he had been effectively called a liar or not, interesting to concentrate on this exchange from above:

Steve Bruce:

I’ve had no row with Saint-Maximin. None – (not) A bust-up.”

Craig Hope:

“Did the player say he was fit to start on Saturday?”

Steve Bruce:

“I didn’t ask that. You wrote that I had a bust-up, you wrote yesterday that I had a bust-up.”

So Craig Hope asks the question, had ASM declared himself fit for the Burnley match, which Steve Bruce doesn’t answer, apparently avoiding it. Instead saying that wasn’t what he was asking Craig Hope about.

My take on it then, is that Craig Hope’s story was mainly based around his alleged source telling him ASM had been fit and Steve Bruce had decided to leave him out against Burnley. Rightly or wrongly. However, Bruce refusing to confirm or deny whether ASM had said he was fit and available.

This is the article by Craig Hope on The Mail on Monday 2 March 2020 that Steve Bruce was reacting to, with following that the true source (I think) of Bruce’s anger:

‘Allan Saint-Maximin’s future at Newcastle is in doubt after Steve Bruce dropped him for Saturday’s goalless draw with Burnley, then claimed the winger was struggling with a hamstring injury.

Sources insist the 22-year-old is fully fit and available for selection, even though manager Bruce said on Monday he was a doubt for tonight’s FA Cup tie at West Bromwich because of back and hamstring issues.

Wolves and Crystal Palace are monitoring developments after learning of the situation.

The St James’ Park crowd sang for the introduction of their favourite in the second half of the game against Burnley and he was finally brought on with 12 minutes remaining.

It has been suggested that Bruce was trying to protect Saint-Maximin by saying he is carrying a slight injury, rather than revealing he had been dropped, although Newcastle maintain he was struggling with a hamstring problem on Thursday and the manager chose not to risk him.

Sportsmail understands there have been concerns about the Frenchman’s recent performances in training and Bruce decided he wanted to field a team he could rely on against Burnley.

However, it is claimed a number of players have been frustrated with the tactics employed, believe the team should be playing better football, and are more capable than Bruce is making out in public.

After a run of one win in 10 league matches, Newcastle are five points off the bottom three and could do without a fallout between their head coach and arguably their best outfield player. Indeed, the Magpies have won only one game without him in the starting XI.

Saint-Maximin signed a six-year contract in the summer after joining for £16million from Nice and looked set for a bright future on Tyneside following an excellent first half of the season.

However, there is likely to be no shortage of interest in the former France Under 21 star should relations fail to improve in the coming months.

Saint-Maximin has scored two goals in 19 appearances and has thrilled the Toon Army with his explosive pace and direct play.’

As Craig Hope said to Steve Bruce on Tuesday night, he hadn’t written there had been a ‘bust-up’ between head coach and player.

However, this is the headline that went on top of The Mail article:

‘Newcastle star Allan Saint-Maximin’s future in doubt after fallout with Steve Bruce which saw winger dropped for Saturday’s draw with Burnley – despite manager claiming he was injured’

Journalists rarely, if ever, write their own headlines when it comes to the bigger newspapers. So Craig Hope wrote the article but almost certainly somebody else at The Mail then added the headline which contained ‘fallout” (not ‘bust-up’ but pretty much the equivalent). A lot of it might sound like splitting hairs but it also explains why both journalist and head coach were insistent they were right.

My assumption is that Craig Hope very likely is right, in that ASM had said he was fit to play against Burnley. Steve Bruce avoiding confirming or denying it.

What only Steve Bruce knows (and anybody else he may have confided in) is whether he dropped ASM or left him out because of injury concerns.

It is worth very much bearing in mind that this conflict between Steve Bruce and the journalist in question, Craig Hope, has been going on most of the season.

He has been the only one to challenge Steve Bruce on any number of occasions, on what the NUFC Head Coach says before and after matches. Whilst pretty much all of the rest of the regular NUFC journalists week in week out choose to tow the Ashley/Bruce line.

Whatever you think about this very public spat on Tuesday night, the overwhelming majority of Newcastle fans will agree that Steve Bruce has been repeatedly guilty of saying ridiculous things throughout the season, Whether they can be called ‘lies’ is another matter.

Only five days after getting the job as NUFC Head Coach, Steve Bruce was welcoming £40m/£43m new signing Joelinton. Bruce claimed the signing as his own and said he had given the ok to the deal. From that point on Newcastle fans felt Bruce had set the tone. Pretty much nobody believing he’d had any say whatsoever in the signing.

Plus of course we had the end of January transfer window declaration that not one striker was available to buy or loan who could do better than the one PL goal quartet of Joelinton, Muto, Gayle and Carroll.

Before the game against Burnley on Saturday, Steve Bruce was talking about everybody going over the top after a ‘couple of bad results’, when the reality was that Newcastle were at the very bottom of the last nine games form table with only six points and one win from nine Premier League matches, now still bottom of a 10 game form table, only seven points and one win from ten now.

This is the type of rubbish Steve Bruce has repeatedly come out with.

I think the correct word for it is ‘spin’ and not ‘lie’ but regardless, it makes him look ridiculous and lacking credibility.

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