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Opinion

With current shambles I can’t help but think of what Danny Rose said about Steve Bruce

9 months ago
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Steve Bruce is now under more pressure than he has been at Newcastle United at any other point, over these past 18 months.

Having gone eight games without a win, six defeats including two cup exits, the situation is grim.

The ultra negative tactics employed by Steve Bruce have meant goals have never been easy to come by, however, with only one in the last 10 hours of football it has gone to a whole different level.

For the vast majority of Newcastle fans, this has simply been inevitable.

They could see what was coming, as only an outstanding goalkeeper(s) and an excellent defence put together by his predecessor, plus outrageous Brucey luck in so many games with (relatively) so many goals coming at crucial times from so few chances created, meaning enough points have been picked up to keep Newcastle away from disaster. So far.

That luck just couldn’t last and the desperate tactics and lack of any kind of attacking plan, were bound to catch up with the NUFC Head Coach. In reality no great defensive plan either, as simply ordering the entire team to stay as close to their own penalty area for the vast majority of every match, failing to press the opposition and conceding control, is not a ‘plan’ that any other Premier League boss would recognise.

Steve Bruce’s response to the shambles he is presiding over, is to repeatedly say how he will get his players back on the training pitch and ensure they produce a reaction, due to hard work, concentration on a plan / tactics and so on. All very Groundhog Day as we hear it time after time.

When I hear Steve Bruce talking like this, I can’t help but recall what Danny Rose had to say about life at Newcastle United when he was here on loan under this Head Coach.

Danny Rose gave Newcastle fans some incredible insight in an interview (read below) in May 2020, comparing and contrasting the training regime at Newcastle United under Steve Bruce, with what he had been used to at Tottenham under Mauricio Pochettino.

Rose said that at Tottenham, players were lucky to get even one day a week off under Mauricio Pochettino. The defender talking about how strict he was and that he had heard the same about other foreign managers at Premier League clubs, such as Antonio Conte at Chelsea.

In contrast, Danny Rose said that since arriving at Newcastle, he couldn’t believe how easy life was, the left-back saying they Steve Bruce gave the squad loads of days off training, sometimes as many as three a week.

Quite amazing for Danny Rose to expose what appeared to be such a ‘different’ approach at Newcastle United. You couldn’t help but also wonder whether fewer days and apparently less intense training, was a major factor in why Rose himself never looked fully fit during his loan spell at Newcastle, limited mobility and failing to impress.

Also in May 2020, Matt Ritchie gave a similarly surprising interview, Ritchie declaring Jonjo Shelvey could be an amazing player if only he didn’t spend so much time playing golf, Ritchie saying the midfielder regularly played it three times a week.

These interview revelations came on the back of a number of players, Jonjo Shelvey in particular, saying how much they preferred life under Steve Bruce, as opposed to Rafa Benitez….

Back when Rafa was at Newcastle United, the players often talked about how hard he worked them but pointed to that hard work and attention to detail as the reasons for the relative success of 10th and 13th place finishes despite Mike Ashley refusing to properly support him in the transfer market.

It is very difficult not to connect the dots…

If we look outside of Newcastle United in the hear and now, Steve Bruce appears to be universally liked as a person, whether it is Alan Shearer, Lee Clark, Rob Lee and other respected ex-NUFC players, or those further afield.

I think the same can be said of the current Newcastle United squad, they do genuinely seem to like Steve Bruce when you hear them interviewed.

However, just because you like somebody doesn’t always equate to them doing the best job.

I remember at school, it wasn’t the teachers who worked you the hardest who were most popular, it was the ones who were matey and / or soft, especially when you got supply teachers in when your normal teacher was off, that was the ultimate, down tools and have a laugh.

Funnily enough though, when I look back at my school and the various teachers, there seems to be this bizarre connection between the teachers who had you doing the most work and you and other kids ending up getting your best exam results…

Of course, it isn’t only the amount of time you spend working, whether at school or on the training ground, it is also the quality of that work. The amount you learn, the good habits you get into and then how that teaching / coaching can be put into practice.

Do the Newcastle United squad spend enough time on the training pitch and are they worked hard enough? I don’t know, only they (those at NUFC) will know that, then you would also have to compare it to what happens at the other 19 PL clubs. Interviews such as Danny Rose’s though, certainly have to worry you.

As for the quality of coaching and training work, what we have seen on the football pitch on matchday these past 18 months, certainly doesn’t say to us that any individual players, nor indeed the team, have improved in any way. All of the underlying statistics are really poor, when it comes to retaining the ball, what happens in key areas – especially the attacking third, whatever.

Danny Rose talking about how strict (or not…) managers can be, to The Lockdown Tactics podcast – 20 May 2020:

“I heard [Antonio] Conte had a strict regime when he came in at Chelsea, I heard that he wasn’t willing to compromise in any shape or form.

“Even [at Tottenham] under Poch [Mauricio Pochettino], he had a different culture to the British.

“It wasn’t that he didn’t understand it, you [he] know the British like to have a drink, it was just something he couldn’t get his head around.

“Even after we beat Ajax in the Champions League semi-final and it was obviously the biggest night of our careers, on the flight home we weren’t allowed a drink.

“It was ‘no you are training tomorrow, you are up at 9am’….so it is just one of those things.

“He was like ‘no we have got a game on Saturday’ – the night was over.

“I do fully respect what he [Pochettino] has done but at the same time, with that Champions League semi-final we had been together since we were 22 or 23.

“So for me, that’s all I’d known for the past five or six years, you would play and then get one day off if you are lucky and that’s it, you’re grafting for the rest of the week.

“So now I’m at Newcastle [with Steve Bruce], you are getting two or three days off a week if you win.

“So I’m thinking what’s going on here then?

“It’s a shock to the system.

“We would only get one day off if we were lucky under Poch.

“Even in international breaks, he would see the ones who would go away as having a holiday because training isn’t as hard with your national team.”

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