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‘Stagnation’ at Newcastle United – I couldn’t quite believe what I was hearing from Steve Bruce

1 month ago
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After The Mag published my article this week highlighting the poor Steve Bruce management record throughout his career, with regards to handling injuries, I promised I wouldn’t criticise any further for the rest of the season.

I honestly did, as it’s so obvious. I’m also amazed that there is such a love in with him and the media, with the gushing praise coming from the TV broadcasting of the Manchester City game particularly vomit inducing.

Unfortunately, the quotes keep coming and remarkably they get worse.

Let me be clear, when Bruce comes on the TV or radio, I either walk away or turn it off as he comes from the Alan Pardew school of saying utter nonsense and ignoring clear facts. He’s not as bad as Joe Kinnear but he’s there or thereabouts.

The last manager I actually hung around and avidly listened to his press conferences was Sir Bobby Robson and before the great white knight came along it was Kevin Keegan, as you could hang on their every word. I maybe listened to Rafa Benitez a few times because he was a great politician and I have massive respect for what he’s achieved in the game.

To say that those three managers were in charge of our club is an honour and (because of varying factors) I can’t believe we didn’t win anything under either of the first two but the one thing I can’t recall from that trio, was being lied to and conned.

Unfortunately, on Friday evening (I am writing this ahead of Saturday’s match at Watford) I was listening to BBC Radio Newcastle’s Total Sport and a former Newcastle United player was commenting on something Steve Bruce had said earlier in the day. “A strange thing to say. He (Bruce) doesn’t help himself sometimes” and “He (Bruce) leaves himself open to criticism” was what John Anderson came out with.

I missed the start of proceedings but intrigued, I had to see what was so “strange” and I have to say, sometimes I can’t honestly believe what I hear at times.

“I am not in it to win a popularity contest though, judge me on results we have had, where we are – we have got a chance to have our third-highest points total in last 13 or 14 years, and one of them we finished fifth. So this myth the club is just stagnating, it is not right, and it is important we try to address that.”

Woah, woah, hang on a minute. If you withhold a 5th place finish in 2011/12 the club have DEFINITELY stagnated. I would go one further and say we have gone backwards, but we’ll take on the “Stagnated” line, by looking at the 13 seasons under Mike Ashley that Bruce mentions.

2007/08 12th

2008/09 18th (Relegated)

2009/10 1st (Promoted from Championship)

2010/11 12th

2011/12 5th (Europa League qualification)

2012/13 16th

2013/14 10th

2014/15 15th

2015/16 18th (Relegated)

2016/17 1st (Promoted from Championship)

2017/18 10th

2018/19 13th

2019/20 13th (This season we could now realistically finish anywhere between 11th and 15th)

Add into the mix that we deliberately set out (for many years) to not try in cup competitions (an official/non official club policy no less) and Steve Bruce’s words are not only non-factual but bordering on comical. But what is this if it isn’t stagnation? Two relegations and a few near misses is criminal for a club like Newcastle United. I was always taught that if you’re in a hole, the last thing you do is keep digging, but keep reading and Bruce digs himself even deeper..

“We are trying to move forward, we have only been out of the Championship for three years, and some of the teams below us, look at Watford and you do wonder why they are near the bottom, and West Ham and Aston Villa and Bournemouth, look at what they have all spent.” 

Stop looking at other clubs! I’m not interested in what Watford, Villa, West Ham and Bournemouth are doing or have done. I’m interested in what goes on at Newcastle United, both in regards the manager and the direction from the top. Everything else falls into place if you get them right. At Newcastle United, neither are remotely right. Sadly, Bruce went on..

“We are gradually improving and the more you are in the Premier League, the more you improve, the better players you have and that is our aim to keep improving, and add a little bit more quality to us.”

Steve, Steve. Do a bit of research or heck, simply look at what the club have done in the last 13 years under Mike Ashley before you actually speak.

So was the idea of knocking back Salomon Rondon last summer and signing Joelinton “adding a bit more quality?” Do me a favour. This club over the last 13 years under Ashley has wrote the book on how to scale back ambition and dumb down both success and even basic playing staff. The club has constantly been sold to players as a stepping stone and a way to make the club/Ashley money with cheaper players coming in than those that are sold out of the club. So don’t tell me the club haven’t “stagnated” Steve. That comment is up there in the charts as one of his “Most Outrageous Claims” collection.

“As for the debate surrounding myself, I am never going to win it (Manager of the Year) I just hope people judge on what we do and where we are.”

At last I agree with him. It would be great if I could sit back and brim with confidence that our manager had a CV worthy of optimism and that he could pull us out of the “stagnation” he (falsely) says we haven’t suffered these last 13 years. Sadly, the evidence doesn’t support such promise.

“For me looking ahead, it is all about taking this club forwards and I only want what is best for this great football club of ours.”

That’s all well and good, but failure to see “stagnation” when it’s as clear as day and having enough about yourself to know you aren’t up to the job, isn’t going to take the club anywhere but backwards.

Steve Bruce is simply delighted to have the job, amazed that the offer came his way in the first place and as for the owner…under Mike Ashley, “Stagnation” is almost a mission statement.

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