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Opinion

Steve Bruce v Neil Warnock

2 weeks ago
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I have previously made clear that I’m no fan of Steve Bruce, I have made that abundantly clear.

I can point to team performances this season being awful (despite having £70m+ worth of talent injected into it last summer). his record at preventing and managing players with regards to injuries is historically bad, whilst some of his excuses even just in his time at Newcastle, have been pathetic.

However, it’s his overall record in management that filled me with dread, when his name was announced as Newcastle United Head Coach a year ago.

It’s quite strange how certain events come around that reinforce people’s points and opinions…

On Tuesday, it flashed up on my phone that the smoggies had sacked former Newcastle player Jonathan Woodgate (still the best centre back the club have had in my lifetime) and replaced him with Neil Warnock.

It was indeed a shock to hear that they’d gone for Warnock, a manager I’ve never particularly liked and ironically would lump into the same sort of bracket as Steve Bruce.

That I think Warnock is a middling Championship manager with some dabbling experience at Premier League level is by the by. The fact that he is 72 this coming December is proof that he won’t be a long term appointment.

Surely it will be a case of simply keeping the club in the Championship first and maybe getting a season or two of his experience into the club and that’s your lot, If Boro go down, he’ll probably be best suited to get them back up, something Sunderland still haven’t achieved. In fact, the mackems could probably have done with Warnock and looked at him as an excellent appointment.

But I digress.

What has he achieved in his career other than to just float around the same old kind of clubs? The old phrase ‘More clubs than Tiger Woods’ springs to mind. His path through management has been startlingly similar to Bruce. In fact the two managers flirt with the same clubs and stick to roughly the same area. They’ve both managed Huddersfield Town, Crystal Palace (Warnock twice) and Sheffield United. They both seem to simply turn up whenever a club is willing to appoint them.

They even flit between rival clubs. Steve Bruce has managed both Sheffield United and Wednesday, Aston Villa and Birmingham City, and now Sunderland and Newcastle. Warnock has managed both Sheffield United and Leeds United as well as Huddersfield Town, all big rivalries.

It’s the lack of trophies and their records that shows me why they get the jobs they do. As players they were poles apart, Warnock achieving little, Bruce clearing up while at Manchester United. But since stepping into management Warnock hasn’t set the profession alight and Bruce has lived up to the old adage that just because you’re a good player, doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be a good manager.

Whisper it carefully, Neil Warnock is actually a more successful manager than Steve Bruce. Bruce has managed to get both Hull City and Birmingham City to the Championship Play Offs (2016 and 2002 respectively) and got both clubs up into the Premier League via second place in 2006-07 (Birmingham) and 2012-13 (Hull City). He also managed an FA Cup runners up medal at Hull, which is what I would put down as his biggest achievement.

Neil Warnock hasn’t fared too well either. Like Bruce, he has Championship runners up honours with both Sheffield United (2005-06) and again with Cardiff City in 2017-18. The crucial thing for Warnock being that he got Queens Park Rangers up to the Premier League as Champions in 2010-11. Is this REALLY the calibre of manager we should be happy to settle for?

To any pundit claiming that Bruce is an ‘excellent’ manager and that the club should stick with him after any Newcastle United takeover (and surprisingly there are plenty) they should simply ask themselves one question: ‘Should Newcastle United (or any club) aiming for the top six in the Premier League, stick with a Head Coach who has a record similar to that of Steve Bruce? For heavens sake, Middlesbrough FC have just appointed one that’s arguably better.

The truth being said, neither are Premier League Managers/Head Coaches and neither should be at Newcastle United.

The fact that one could be managing in League One next season and the other who (in my opinion) isn’t as good, is hailed by pundits and media men as deserving of a chance to take Newcastle United forward if mega rich new owners come in, simply beggars belief.

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