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Opinion

Putting paid to the notion that Steve Bruce “Exceeded expectations”

4 days ago
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In the interests of full disclosure, I’ll be upfront about my reaction to Steve Bruce being appointed.

I was against it.

Not just against it, I was livid, furious, disgusted, any number of angry emotions.

One thing I wasn’t though is surprised.

I knew it was coming, or similar, my money had been on Pardew being given the job again, I could see the headline quotes from our incredible (and only) director “it just made sense. Alan knows the club and was available, Alan produced the best finish in blah blah blah, good working relationship with myself and Mike blah, blah, blah.”

The fact that it was an almost identical manager to Pardew in Steve Bruce, confirmed (again) that Mike Ashley does not have any intention of running NUFC with any football ambition.

Going from Rafa Benitez, a proven winner with an incredible CV and mantle piece stacked with medals, coupled with the knowledge that MA was taking the proverbial out of me and my club made me angry.

Understand, I do not want the club to fail. I didn’t / don’t want Bruce to fail. I want to see that my club and the team is progressing, developing and learning, that’s all really.

With Rafa, you could see the intention, you could see the professionalism, there was clear direction, articulated in simple terms from someone who had already done it. “Do things the right way” was often said. Identify targets early and get them in early so they hit the ground running. Facilities improvements, youth investment, all things that set the foundation for success, prepare, prepare, prepare.

So when Rafa was cast aside and replaced with a rent a cliché manager I was angry.

Now – to the point.

I have heard and continue to hear “Bruce has exceeded expectations” or things like this. Hearing this isn’t good for me, it gets my anger going again. Let’s get this straight – Steve Bruce has performed exactly to expectations. Steve Bruce and his football team have performed exactly as anticipated. The fact that NUFC were not relegated as a result of Steve Bruce performing exactly as predicted is not the same as “Bruce exceeding expectations.”

Outrageous luck picking up wins and points from games in which we deserved nothing, having been played off the park. Spurs away, Soton at home, Sheffield United away, Palace at home, Chelsea at home, Everton away, all games in which we really deserved nowt.

This doesn’t equate to Bruce “exceeding expectations.” Steve Bruce’s performance has resulted in NUFC having one of the worst performing teams in memory (by measurement, not feeling). We have just watched a season of football with one – possibly two – games which entertained and in which we could categorically say we deserved to win. Bournemouth and West Ham away.

There isn’t another game in which we could hand on heart say we deserved to win while playing against eleven men anyway (unless you are from monkseaton of course). The majority of the games ending in relief if we had somehow managed to scrape something from them, relief that the game was finally over. All of these games lived up to expectations, even the games we fluked, we played and performed in line with expectations, we performed exactly as expected with Steve Bruce in charge. Defensively, no creativity, no plan and reliant upon an individual moment of magic or outrageous fortune.

Every measure shows regression from last year, every measure. Points, goals, defence, individual stats, teams stats, top scorers, top assists – even attendance. All of this regression coming after the first positive net spend in years.

If it stays the same in terms of management and ownership next season, then it is certain that Steve will perform exactly as expected again, luck or lack thereof will determine the final position.

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