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Opinion

Steve Bruce, Blackadder and the concept of ‘progress’ at Newcastle United

4 months ago
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Steve Bruce has been talking about the progress made at Newcastle United since he arrived over 17 months ago.

Mike Ashley securing the services of the Championship manager after agreeing to pay £4m compensation to Sheffield Wednesday.

Steve Bruce signing on at St James Park on 17 July 2019.

The Newcastle United Head Coach says that he would ‘beg to differ’ when NUFC fans are saying there has been no ‘progress’ at St James Park.

Steve Bruce likes to make out that those supporters criticising are a very small minority of unrepresentative ‘keyboard warriors’, unlike the silent masses who…silently are right behind him, according to the Head Coach.

The reality of course is that for most Newcastle United fans it is not a case of a lack of progress under Steve Bruce, it is a belief that he has actually taken the team backwards in his time so far..

Steve Bruce talks about the progress he says he has made in over 17 months at Newcastle United:

“Since I walked through the door [at Newcastle United], the first thing I have tried to do is take the club forward.

“That is my job, I am a Newcastle fan, like everyone knows.

“It [progress] is slow and after the other night [losing to Brentford], you have to accept that people are going to say there has been no progress. 

“I would beg to differ.

“When you are up against it a bit, you have to batten down the hatches, firmly believe in what you’re doing.

“We have got to go work, get the squad and the team as good as I can get them.

“There is no disputing the fact that we’ve had a poor week, especially when we have blown the opportunity that we had.

“Unfortunately, that has been Newcastle over the last 40 years, where we haven’t been to a [League Cup] semi-final and I’m as disappointed as anybody else.

“I have worked with this squad now for the past 18 months and the vast majority, certainly seven that played the other day, are players that came out of the Championship.

“They have been at the club a long time and they know exactly what it takes.

“The one thing you have to have is that ability to roll your sleeves up, get on with it, because it’s difficult.

“When you play for a big club like ours, you have to face the music when it comes your way, meet the challenge.

“Over the last 18 months, the one thing I can’t level at them [the players] is a lack of commitment.

“Yes, we can pass the ball better.

“Yes, we can play better than we did the other night.

“That is the biggest disappointment for me, because unfortunately, in the last week in particular, we haven’t done enough with the ball.

“We have been so slow and pedestrian with the ball and unfortunately that has not been good enough.”

Steve Bruce says progress is ‘slow’ and of course previously he has said that you can’t expect changes ‘overnight’, when he is criticised for the terrible ultra tactics he employs.

Whenever I hear Steve Bruce talking about the alleged progress he is making at Newcastle United, I am reminded of my favourite comedy and very favourite scene from it.

In Blackadder Goes Forth, it is set during the first world war with all the misery that this entailed.

In this scene below (go to 2.18), General Melchett is explaining to George, just how successful the latest offensive has been.

Melchett talking about the ‘progress’ made thanks to the latest push, countless men killed but he has a scale model on a table showing how much land has been recaptured.

When asked what scale the model is, the reply is ‘one to one’, so the 17 square feet of earth in front 0f them is life-size. Watch it below (at 2.18), especially if you haven’t seen it before, the horrors of World War One and the stupidity of those who led our troops, shown via this comedy genius:

I still have absolutely no idea as to what Steve Bruce’s ‘cunning’ Baldrick style plan is at Newcastle United. Neither the wider overall plan with the club / team, nor the ‘plan’ used in matches to supposedly try and create chances, score goals and win matches.

Steve Bruce has now taken charge of 62 Newcastle United matches, including 51 Premier League ones. Yet he continues to stumble from one game to the next with absolutely no outward signs of any progress whatsoever, never mind a long-term plan.

Worth bearing in mind that in the final 28 Premier League games under Rafa Benitez, Newcastle United had the eighth best form in the top tier, whilst in his final 16 PL matches, Rafa’s Newcastle had the fifth best Premier league form AND scored the fifth highest number of goals in those sixteen games, directly before Steve Bruce took over.

Steve Bruce taking over a squad with a defence that had seen only six other Premier League clubs concede less goals than in both 2017/18 and 2018/19.

Steve Bruce then also allowed a net spend of over £100m on new players by Mike Ashley in his 17 months so far.

Thanks to the money at last spent, which had been denied to Rafa Benitez, and no insistence on having to sell any players to fund it. I think the vast majority of Newcastle fans would say the NUFC squad is now stronger than pre-Bruce.

However, the performances are invariably poor and the style of football far more negative, far more often, than ever was the case under Rafa, no matter what Steve Bruce and his media / football mates will claim.

Steve Bruce turns 60 in a handful of days time and not wanting to be ageist or anything…BUT having the worst record of any manager to have taken charge of 400+ matches in the Premier League, never having won anything, becoming a permanent Championship fixture at Hull, Villa and Sheff Wed, the invisible progress (going backwards) under Steve Bruce has been all too predictable for myself and most other Newcastle fans.

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