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Opinion

‘As an Aston Villa fan I say to Newcastle supporters – I come in peace…and sympathy’

2 months ago
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First of all, let me say, I am not a Newcastle fan.

At least not in the way you guys are.

Like most whose formative years were in the 90s, I have a special affection for Newcastle; the stadium, the fans, the swashbuckling style of play.

So I have been an admirer not a fan: my true allegiance is that I’m an Aston Villa fan, a season ticket holder for many years.

So why is an Aston Villa fan writing in to a Newcastle Supporters site? It’s with sympathy. From someone who knows first hand what it’s like to watch a Steve Bruce side.

Steve Bruce is not a good manager.

When he’s been ‘successful’ (Hull and Birmingham), two things have been true: He’s been in the Championship and expectations have been low. Neither of those teams expected promotion to the Premier League when he joined, so to achieve it off the back of defensive minded football and negative tactics would have been more than a fair trade (especially for Birmingham, who have a long history of terrible football anyway).

At other clubs he has failed because expectations were (legitimately) greater and the opposition generally of a higher standard, with coaches that might be able to adapt tactics as they go (something that’s an alien concept to Bruce)

He failed at Villa. Brought in to get us promotion (based on the overachievement at Hull and Birmingham) he failed because the football was so dire, the fans couldn’t tolerate it if it didn’t accompany results that would get us promoted. For the fans the objective was to win that league, to prove we were better than it. Not to sneak up via the play-offs by thrashing Middlesbrough 1-0 over two legs. Bruce didn’t understand this ‘elevated’ expectation level.

He has failed at Newcastle as the situation is the same – due to Ashley, the objective is simply to stay in the league apparently, but there’s no way the fans would or should be happy with this. Bruce won’t understand an elevated expectation level that looks for progress, entertainment and the promise of something better, not something that’s simply ‘good enough’.

Bruce attempts to meet any football objective with his Plan A of football – defensive solidity with a pacey front man. Sadly, he doesn’t have a plan B.

Bruce recently made a comment about how he ‘won’t walk away from a challenge’ and that he’s been in the game long enough to have this respected.

I think fans of Wigan (first spell, two months), Palace (three months) and Sheffield Wednesday (6 months) would disagree – in each instance he walked rather than being sacked. If only he would do so now.

All the best for the rest of the season (except against the Villa of course) and keep up the excellent work on The Mag.

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