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Classic Steve Bruce today – Says he takes full responsibility and then does anything but…

4 months ago
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I had always dreaded Steve Bruce becoming manager of Newcastle United.

A career history in the Premier League of poor football, clueless tactics, low returns of both points and goals.

Almost as bad as the above, I also dreaded Newcastle United fans being subjected to his nonsense off the pitch in pre and post-match press conferences.

Sad to say, I haven’t been left ‘disappointed’ in terms of Steve Bruce meeting my expectations above, in the 20 months he has (so far!!!) been at Newcastle United.

Poor football – TICK

Clueless tactics – TICK

Not many points -TICK

Not many goals scored – TICK

As for Bruce’s behaviour off the pitch – A very big TICK.

We thought we had seen it all under Mike Ashley, with the embarrassing stuff that JFK, Pardew, Carver and McClaren came out with.

Fair play to Steve Bruce though, he has taken the press conference stuff to a whole new level.

Plus, I’m not even referring to the disgraceful actions of banning a journalist simply for doing his job, or refusing to take and questions from the written media (or limiting them to a token one or two).

Newcastle fans don’t have ‘access’ to Steve Bruce due to enforced empty stadiums, so to then ban newspaper journalists from asking questions on the fans’ behalf is even worse than it would be during non-virus times.

Thursday 11 March was classic Steve Bruce.

When speaking at his pre-Aston Villa press conference, the NUFC Head Coach stating that he takes full responsibility for the total mess that this season has been and the club tottering on the brink of relegation….and then does anything but…

Steve Bruce declaring:

“There’s a long way to go but as I have said it many, many times, the buck stops with me and I understand that totally.”

However…Steve Bruce then goes on to say / qualify the above with:

“I think that with the problems we have had, certainly when I analyse the season, we were going along very, very nicely until Covid hit, then the injuries to big players.

“It has been a real big problem to handle, that is what we have been dealt with.

“We’ve missed three big players [in Almiron, Saint-Maximin and Wilson] and we’re hoping, fingers crossed, that after the international break, which is coming at the right time for us in terms of the injured players, we’ll get the three players back.”

It was around the Palace away game that the virus impacted on Newcastle United, before this Palace match at the end of November, Newcastle had won three, drawn two and lost four in their opening nine PL matches, with eleven points from nine games. Not exactly what most fans would call ‘going along very, very nicely’ and it was very reminiscent of so many games last season where Newcastle picked up points, the underlying stats suggesting Steve Bruce was very fortunate to have picked up the points he had done.

As for the impact of Covid, numerous other Premier League clubs have been affected and yet Newcastle United and Steve Bruce are the only ones who still use it as an excuse on a weekly basis, even though the outbreak was four months ago now. Just before Christmas, Steve Bruce claimed ASM was suffering from long covid, but the the French winger instantly went public to say that wasn’t the case.

As for the narrative of the media happy to go along with this idea that Newcastle United have been seriously impacted this season due to injuries for their there best attacking threats, well it isn’t really the full truth is it?

Miguel Almiron was named in all of the first 26 PL matchday squads, so far it has only been the West Brom game he has been unavailable for. However, Steve Bruce is so clueless, he didn’t have a clue how / where to play Almiron and actually only started the Paraguayan in four of the opening nine PL matches and in total didn’t include him eight times in the starting eleven in the opening sixteen PL matches. If indeed Almiron is back playing in early April, he will have missed far more starting elevens this season due to Steve Bruce dropping him, rather than injuries. The pinnacle of Bruce’s daftness was that Sheffield United match when he played five defenders and three defensive midfielders, with Fraser and Wilson the only possible threats. Almiron didn’t even get off the bench in that embarrassing defeat and performance.

As for ASM, he was named in 16 of the first 26 PL matchday squads before injury against Wolves. However, Steve Bruce wasn’t getting a tune out of him earlier this season, the Burnley game the only real exception, Bruce was actually set to drop ASM anyway for that Palace away game, only for the virus to do the job anyway.

There is no getting away from the fact that Callum Wilson is a big loss BUT he was available and named in 22 of the first 23 PL matches this season. For example, the first 14 matches of this shocking two wins in 18 games run, Callum Wilson was available. Almiron was available in 17 of the 18, whilst ASM 10 of the 18.

Yes they are three good to very good players, or at least capable of being that, but it is a complete joke to suggest Newcastle United have ended up on the brink of relegation mainly due to injuries to this trio.

Talking about the issues he has to deal with, Steve Bruce also said today:

“We have to deal with a pressure every week when you pull on a black and white shirt, to perform and get results.”

Bruce is always keen to try and make out that it is extra difficult to manage Newcastle United and indeed for the players to perform, often the finger pointed by Steve Bruce at the fans for making it more difficult for their team to perform. It is simply not true.

Steve Bruce has become very reticent about setting targets as the season has progressed, which means we often get stuff like this, which Bruce trotted out yet again today regarding avoiding relegation:

“It is about the accumulation of points, which I keep saying, what we need…and that’s what we’ll try and do.”

Steve Bruce could and should be saying something along the lines of that Newcastle are aiming for a very minimum of the traditional 40 points safety target. However, he refuses to do so, no doubt afraid of him getting nowhere near it.

I have absolutely no doubt that if say Newcastle United ended up surviving on something like 31 or 32 points due only to the abject failure of others, he would for sure claim it as a massive success. Even though both this and last season he was full of aiming for the top ten and obviously doing better than Rafa Benitez had done.

Last weekend after the woeful performance against West Brom and fortunate point when you consider how little threat Newcastle carried, Steve Bruce even came out with this nonsense: ‘In the last six games we have won two and drawn two, only losing against Man United and Chelsea. So it was vitally important to make sure that we kept the run going.’

Sadly, none of the journalists challenged him for literally making stuff up, before the West Brom game it had been three defeats in the last six as Palace had won at St James Park. Quite unbelievable that Steve Bruce was claiming three defeats and a draw (and the one win against Southampton) in the last five games before West Brom was being on some kind of great run. Never mind the two wins in seventeen, which became two wins in eighteen after the West Brom shocker.

As well as Mike Ashley of course, Steve Bruce is by far the overwhelming reason why Newcastle United are the favourites to go down with Sheff Utd and West Brom. It isn’t covid, injuries or Newcastle United being some especially difficult / impossible club to manage.

The biggest long-term injuries have actually been with Dubravka – but we saw Darlow perform excellently and not prove a weakness. Also at centre-back BUT this where Newcastle have the most strength in depth AND would have been able even more to cope if Steve Bruce hadn’t loaned out Lejeune without a replacement coming in. Then more recent problems at right-back, which wouldn’t have been the case of Bruce hadn’t given Yedlin away in January.

As always at Newcastle United, it is very rare that the problems can’t be easily traced back to self-inflicted wounds / own goals, with by far the biggest own Mike Ashley own goal of the past couple of years, having been to force Rafa Benitez out and replace him with Steve Bruce.

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