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Only way to avoid impending disaster at Newcastle United is to say farewell to this total calamity

12 months ago

You’d think Head Coach Steve Bruce would learn at Newcastle United.

No, you really would and you fear for someone that doesn’t after so much self-inflicted disaster.

Now before I begin to say what it is I want to say about Saturday night’s match, I have to confess something.

I’d had a long Saturday at work and nodded off watching Only Fools And Horses. Despite being the best part of forty years old (that’s the TV show AND me by the way) it still provides some light comedic relief against the drudgery of modern television and (unfortunately) the football. Let’s be fair, there was no chance I was going to pay £14.95 for the privilege, so it was some consolation to watch the escapades of that loveable conman Del Boy once again, rather than feather the nests of those greedy b,stards/conmen.

I kept flicking through my phone to check the score every five minutes or so and was pleasantly surprised when I noticed that we’d gone a goal up early doors. Always dangerous to score so early but hey ho, it gives the team something to build on, no matter how fortuitous it was. It didn’t take long for Manchester United to equalise as we backed off and handed them the initiative. That’s around the point when I dozed off.

Coming to, I half expected it to be the small hours of the morning but it was in fact only around 10pm and Only Fools was still on. I knew the match must have finished so I checked my phone and got a shock…4-1? What in the hell happened there?

I was shocked further when I noticed the lateness of the last three Manchester goals. The answer to this was in the match reports that I read and strangely it took me back to the start of the season. I’ll explain.

Back in August when it was first reported that Martin Dubravka had picked up an injury while on international duty with Slovakia, I was concerned, but when it came out that he had reported said injury to his club manager and medical team, I was astonished that this message was ignored and Dubravka was told to keep training on it. I shouldn’t have been shocked in the slightest. That’s true to form for this Head Coach and has been throughout his career. He is that much of a plonker.

As we know, Martin Dubravka subsequently found the pain too much and after a further three days of training went for a scan, diagnosed with an injury that would require a couple of months out. Thankfully it hasn’t turned out to be the disaster that it could have been or that I expected it would be. The reason for this has been the form of Karl Darlow.

Darlow has come in and surprised me somewhat. I always thought he was decent though not the standard of Dubravka but since the start of the season he has been been keeping Newcastle United in games for long periods and got us that undeserved point down at Tottenham single-handedly, when a thumping defeat should have materialised. Then again, it pays to have a good goalie and (luckily for Bruce) Newcastle have two.

On Saturday night I always had a feeling that we could nick something because a good Manchester United team this is not. Getting to half time at 1-1 was decent enough, even though the visitors were equipping themselves far better than the home side were and it should have come as no surprise that we eventually succumbed 1-4 to a side that although not great, WILL take chances if presented to them on a plate.

If you don’t have a go at struggling sides, they will punish you, after all “He who dares wins!” according to the programme I was watching, but there was none of that coming from Newcastle United if you looked at the stats. If I had been following the game in real time, I would have expected goals to arrive as they duly did. However, what followed next is where I get annoyed.

This Head Coach is a walking disaster. When I woke up and saw the score, I had all sorts of thoughts about what I could write about. The fact that the league is a mess and we are likely to still pick up points, now after a 4-1 defeat that’s optimism for you, probably misplaced, but people do accuse me of being too negative. I could have commented on the starting line up, about how I wouldn’t have played Emile Krafth, Joelinton being a waste of a shirt, Jamaal Lascelles not being up to the job when played in a back four (and his captaining abilities leave a lot to be desired) but all that went out the window with what I read next.

I read with incredulity that Steve Bruce had actually put Isaac Hayden back out in the second half knowing full well that he had a hamstring injury. One of the worst sort of injuries to play on with and this clown doesn’t make the right call and substitute the player?

“Unfortunately, he nicked a hamstring just before half time. We thought he was going to be ok, but he clearly wasn’t.”- Steve Bruce

Unbelievable yet believable in equal measure. What was he hoping to achieve? Did he expect Hayden to simply run it off. No surprises that he lasted less than five minutes. The one injury you don’t take chances with is soft tissue injuries and that’s coming from someone who merely studied a Diploma in Sport and Exercise Sciences. Surely it can’t be the call of the medical team? It has to be Bruce overriding his staff.

Worse was to follow. I read that ‘keeper Karl Darlow had picked up a knock during the second half and had even played on with it for half an hour. I thought that maybe all the subs had been used and this was simply unfortunate circumstances. Not bloody likely. It was Bruce and his coaching staff once again. With two subs still to play, half an hour to go and the score poised at 1-1 the simple solution to such a problem would have been to put Mark Gillespie on and make sure you don’t lose the game or at least keep all players out on the field fit. I braced myself for an excuse from Bruce and it duly arrived.

“I wonder if the linesman had flagged earlier (for offside), rather than waiting for it with that ridiculous rule, then who knows? It might have been averted.”- Steve Bruce

Don’t you bloody dare you charlatan. You assess the problem and deal with it regardless of how the problem arose. There was no other course of action to having an injured goalkeeper going into the last half an hour than to take him off. With Bruce?

I personally would have had Miguel Almiron on as well but that’s another argument for another day and one not worth wasting time on. There are bigger crimes afoot at this club with basic injury management than who to bring on to win a game of football. The people in the dugout are so far removed from managing the basics that actual game management is lost on them. Never mind tactics, substitutions and all that jazz, this management set up are shooting themselves in the foot almost literally and it’s costing us points immediately and will cost us points the further into the season we go. And now we have not one but TWO goalkeepers potentially crocked.

“To lose one may be regarded as a misfortune, to lose two looks like carelessness.”- Oscar Wilde

It is made all the worse when both were deliberately mishandled by the management team. Bruce can waffle on about requiring time to deliver a change in formation, playing style, etc but this has now gone on far too long to be accidental. This is out and out incompetence. Forget what he’s done at his previous clubs and believe me, I could pull quote after quote to crucify the guy but it’s not necessary. What I’ve witnessed in his 15 months at Newcastle United is quite astounding. Quite where we’ll be “This time next year” is anyone’s guess. One thing’s for sure, who needs the opposition trying to get one over on you when you have Steve Bruce at the helm?

As is always the case in football, results will dictate what happens over the course of the season but unfortunately the results so far this season are worse than last season over the same fixtures.

West Ham 2-0 (3-2 in 2019/20)

Brighton 0-3 (0-0)

Tottenham 1-1 (1-0)

Burnley 3-1 (0-0)

Manchester United 1-4 (1-0)

That makes us four points down on the same games last season (+3 goal difference vs -2) and this is after Steve Bruce has had money to spend to get his own players in.

The only way to avoid the impending disaster is to say farewell to this total calamity.


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