Get your daily update and weekly newsletter by signing up today!


Steve Bruce v Rafa Benitez – A more accurate representation

2 years ago

I know this has been done to death and apologies if people are fed up with this comparison but…Steve Bruce v Rafa Benitez.

No one is forcing you to read this so if you don’t want to, please don’t.

During the Bournemouth game on Wednesday night, I heard whichever B list commentator that was accompanying the odious Alan Smith, suggest that Steve Bruce is doing a much better job than Rafa but he is not receiving anywhere near as much praise.

This got me thinking. I am getting fed up with this one-sided argument that the media seem to constantly be having with themselves, so here is my comparison.

Pretty much the minute that Rafa took the Newcastle United job, the media started berating NUFC fans for ‘hero worshipping’ him. He was ridiculed for failing to keep us up. We were then told repeatedly that he wouldn’t be staying.

When he decided to stay, we were told that he had never managed in the championship and we would have been better off with a ‘safe pair of hands’ like Pulis, Bruce, Warnock or Hughes. We then had the £50m+ that he spent that summer rammed down our throats as the biggest spend ever for a Championship team and that anything other than walking the league should be regarded as failure. More often than not, the £30m+ profit in 2016/17 was conveniently ignored.

This theme pretty much continued for the rest of Rafa’s stay. The fans criticised for hero worshipping him, even though we were also being criticised for not wanting Pardew, Carver or McClaren running our club and not giving them a fair chance.

The media loved criticising Rafa’s football, which I must admit was terrible at times, but he ground out results and maintained a respectable goal difference. The media consistently linked Rafa with other clubs and told us he would be leaving as he was too big for Newcastle etc etc.

That final 16 game run in Rafa’s last season seemed to get next to no praise. I didn’t hear any pundits or media point out the fact that we had the fifth best form in the league (and eighth best form in PL over his final 28 matches) and were the fifth highest scorers at the time and I haven’t heard them do so since.

I was gutted when Rafa left, but as speculation grew about who our next manager will be (“Sky sources understand that XYZ has been shortlisted for the NUFC job”, accompanied by Sky betting odds. (How that is allowed? I have absolutely no idea but that’s an argument for another day)), I must admit I did feel some slight rumbles of excitement and anticipation. Maybe Ashley was going to make a decent appointment for once. The names being linked were all young up and coming managers with something to prove and I thought maybe just maybe we’ll end up with someone decent.

When Steve Bruce was announced, to say I was deflated would be putting it very lightly. The manager with literally the worst ever record of 300+ games in the Premier League. The definition of dinosaur. Sacked at Villa. No thank you.

From pretty much the minute Steve Bruce was appointed, we have had it rammed down our throats how lucky we are to have him and how ungrateful we are for not wanting him.

When we were playing terrible football and losing most games, we were repeatedly told that his record is better than Rafa’s record at this stage last season blah blah blah. Why not compare his first ten games to Rafa’s most recent ten if you must? Surely that would be a more accurate representation!

These tedious comparisons have continued throughout the season and have really intensified since the restart thanks to two very good results and performances against two of the most out of form teams in the league.

What I can’t get me head around is why everyone in the media is so desperate to tell us how bad Rafa was and how good Bruce is and how ungrateful we are?

Phil Neville I understand. As a friend and former team mate he is always going to take Bruce’s side. But what about everyone else?

Why do people care so much?

Why is Andy Hinchcliffe getting involved? And Darren Bent? It’s crazy.

The argument seems to be that Bruce doesn’t get the credit that Rafa got but that is absolute b.llocks.

Rafa got no credit whatsoever from most of the media and Bruce has had next to no criticism since he started. I don’t know if all these ex players are Freemasons or something, surely Brucie can’t be friends with them all or be paying them all to sing his praises?

Many times I have heard the disgusting pig Sam Allardyce bemoaning how British managers don’t get a chance and just because your surname doesn’t end with ‘ino’ fans don’t want you.

This is wrong. As far as I’m concerned there is a list of has-been managers who I am amazed still get jobs. Yes they are all British, but the reason I wouldn’t want them is because they are rubbish and have achieved the sum total of nothing/little between them in about a thousand collective years of managing in the Premier League. The foremost ones are Allardyce, Hughes, Bruce, Pardew, Moyes, McClaren, Pulis and Warnock. I probably would have been happy to give a chance to literally anyone else.

The fact of the matter is that Rafa Benitez, one of the top 10 managers in the world at the time, approached us because he saw the potential and opportunity to build something. He achieved well whilst he was here and was in the process of building a good side and changing the club for the better.

For me, he brought some hope and passion back to supporting NUFC after years of indifference. It wasn’t necessarily about results, but more about progress and seeing improvement and seeing that we were slowly heading in the right direction.

In comparison, a Championship level manager who would get nowhere near the shortlist of any other Premier League club, or probably most top half Championship club, is offered the job. The reasons for this are simply that he is cheap and he will do as he’s told.

When Rafa took over, he didn’t once criticise Steve McClaren in public despite the absolute mess that he had left behind. I think I even remember hearing Rafa praise the work of his predecessor. This just shows the honour and professional courtesy of the man.

Steve Bruce on the other hand has continuously made underhand digs at Rafa when the only thing he should be saying is “muchas gracias.” For me, this comparison sums up the class of the two men.

In conclusion, Steve Bruce isn’t fit to wipe Rafa’s glasses.

I can’t wait to see the back of him and I would LOVE IT if we get taken over by the Saudis and they bring Rafa back!


If you would like to feature on The Mag, submit your article to [email protected]

Have your say

© 2022 The Mag. All Rights Reserved. Design & Build by Mediaworks