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Opinion

Now Steve Bruce has gone missing

3 weeks ago
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Steve Bruce will lead his players into the start of the Premier League season at West Ham in 10 days time, or at least we think he will.

Joelinton and Yoshinori Muto taking absolutely no part in Newcastle’s pre-season training remains a mystery, with the club refusing to comment.

Whilst now even the NUFC Head Coach appears to have disappeared.

Looking back, it appears that the last time Steve Bruce did anything to camera for any outside media, was 21 August 2020 (for Sky Sports), as far as I can see.

As for even appearing in front of the camera for Newcastle United’s own TV channel, no sign of Steve Bruce since 25 August 2020 after Newcastle beat Crewe 3-0 in the first friendly of pre-season.

After that Crewe match, as well as Steve Bruce, both Andy Carroll and Federico Fernandez also did pieces to camera for the club’s NUFC TV.

For some reason Steve Bruce was nowhere to be seen after the 2-1 friendly win over Barnsley on Saturday. No explanation given, with assistant Steve Agnew instead doing a post-match piece for NUFC TV, as did goalscorer Jacob Murphy.

In the ever diminishing media output to fans, things reached a new low yesterday (Tuesday 1 September). With no reason given, the club gave no details pre-match of the team to face Middlesbrough, gave no during the match updates, Boro also doing the same as clearly some kind of pact agreed on this between the clubs.

Then after the match, literally nobody from Newcastle United has said anything about the 5-1 hammering by Middlesbrough. Even for the club’s own NUFC TV, nothing from Steve Bruce to camera or even quotes released from the Head Coach, the same with the players, nobody talking on camera or whatever.

Who knows the reasons for Steve Bruce now disappearing from the public eye via the media at such a key time, with only now these 10 days before the football starts.

Maybe it isn’t such a big deal but when it is to a backdrop of such a shambles at Newcastle United, you surely have to wonder exactly what is going on.

Mike Ashley doesn’t talk to the fans.

Ashley’s sidekick Justin Barnes, who the owner most relies on to look after his NUFC interests, doesn’t talk to the fans.

Lee Charnley, who Ashley pretends he most relies on to look after his NUFC interests, isn’t allowed to talk to the fans.

Which leaves Steve Bruce. Like every other Newcastle United manager /head coach under Mike Ashley before him, certainly since that first season when Chris Mort was MD, it is Bruce’s job to be the sole club management communicator with the media and the fans.

So unlike more normal clubs, Steve Bruce going missing for these past eight days, is very noticeable.

As has been pointed out so many times before, on the first day of last season (Arsenal home – August 2019), Lee Charnley pledged in the programme notes that Newcastle United would put right their failures when it came to properly communicating with the fans.

Nonsense of course, never better illustrated than by Mike Ashley and his minions’ absolute contempt for the NUFC supporters throughout these virus affected six months and counting.

The thing is, Mike Ashley has made Newcastle United into such a joke of a club, that when really crazy things happen, those outside of Tyneside, including the London media, just shake their heads and / or laugh, thinking ‘same old Newcastle, what are they like’…

Nothing negative that happens at St James Park ever shocks them now.

Can you imagine if with 10 days to go until the season starts, nobody had seen or heard anything in pre-season of Manchester United’s, Liverpool’s, or Arsenal’s record signing? Then on top of that, the club / clubs were refusing to comment on why this was???

Yet here we are with Newcastle United, not a penny spent all summer on the essential signings for a team that has so little creativity and so few goals, yet the media are totally disinterested in the fact that £40m+ record signing Joelinton is missing and the club has refused to say absolutely anything about it. If it was Man Utd or Man City they would be tearing down the walls to demand answers.

With Newcastle United there is pretty much zero interest or concern, especially from outside the region. I have seen the odd bit of speculation from those locally covering NUFC, that it could be to do with quarantining / self-isolating. However, even if this is on the money, it should surely be a significant story, especially when Muto is also missing AND Dwight Gayle is knackered.

Meaning that the only option as things stand, is a striker who hasn’t scored a Premier League goal for 29 months and is usually lucky to stay fit from one week to the next.

Remember, it is not many weeks ago when Newcastle United were THE big story, richest club in the world we were going to be, pretty much no player on the planet safe from being named as potentially playing for NUFC in 2020/21.

Now it is a bit like as a kid when you would go past the Town Moor in the days after the Hoppings had packed up, seeing those big open spaces you would doubt whether it had really been filled only hours / days earlier by a funfair as far as the eye could see.

Supporting Newcastle United these recent months has truly turned from a dream we could almost touch, into a nightmare of epic proportions, even by NUFC standards.

Yes we might have seen worse teams in the past, yes we might even as things stand find three worse clubs this coming season and just about survive (to struggle, not fight, another day).

However, this is all pure Mike Ashley, massive risks taken, no ambition, credible signings left so late, if indeed they happen at all.

Meanwhile the Newcastle fans treated with absolute contempt.

Of course there are fans of clubs that are worse off, whether it is Bury, Sunderland, Wigan or whoever.

However, why should we always have to compare ourselves with the very worst off?

Why shouldn’t we look at Leicester and Wolves and their ‘miracle’ of showing ambition on and off the pitch?

Mike Ashley is not a pauper, he is a multi-billionaire. Newcastle United is his asset and he is the one who will profit from it whenever it is sold. He could easily make things happen on and off the pitch, to show ambition and to actually increase the value of his own asset! Instead it is always he and his other businesses benefiting from Newcastle United, with free / cheap as chips promotion of the brands worldwide plus any other means of profiting from their relationship with the football club.

As for Steve Bruce, in past close seasons the NUFC press pack have certainly had significant access to the manager / head coach at the pre-season training camp. Then after each friendly the chance as a group to quiz the current team boss in press conferences.

Yes, the virus situation makes this more difficult, however, the media were ‘meeting’ with the managers / head coaches pre and post-match every game after PL restart. No reason why these Zoom press conferences and meetings couldn’t be happening now with Steve Bruce and journalists able to ask the questions.

For Newcastle fans, the obvious answer is that it doesn’t suit Mike Ashley and his people to have questions asked in this time of pre-season.

Things taken then to absolute extreme when Steve Bruce doesn’t even put messages out via the media that the club completely control.

Maybe even he has reached the point where he is so sick of the way the club is run, he doesn’t want to talk about it.

The next friendly is Stoke at St James Park on Saturday, seven days before the season kicks off, will we be any the wiser by then?

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