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Opinion

What Wednesday night revelations tell us about great man-manager Steve Bruce

5 months ago
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The breaking Newcastle United news on  Wednesday night was that a “sensational” training ground altercation had taken place between Steve Bruce and Matt Ritchie.

You could be forgiven for thinking that Bruce is one of those managers known for rubbing players up the wrong way, or saying what has to be said, consequences be damned.

Yet that doesn’t seem to be the case, at least not when his media friends speak of Steve Bruce and his ‘style’ of leadership.

Instead, journalists and pundits branding him a great man-manager and a first class coach.

The question is…does a great man-manager really throw his players under the bus with such alarming regularity?

Matt Ritchie was blamed by Steve Bruce for not doing a good enough job in “passing on instructions” only seconds before the Wolves equaliser on Saturday night (regardless, I personally thought Dubravka should have saved that every day of the week, but that’s just me) and I think he is perfectly entitled to be angry with how quick Bruce was to shift the blame onto him.

Ritchie is though, far from the only one to benefit from Bruce’s unique man-management skills.

In the same game, Steve Bruce lambasted long suffering Joelinton for what was a sensational goal line block from Romain Saiss. Now we all know Joelinton should be scoring more goals but his performances have been hugely improving and in this case, he did everything right. He found himself space in the box, didn’t take a desperate, knee jerk reaction swing at the cut back from Murphy, but neither did he dither on the ball, making a very good attempt on goal.

It’s not going to help the Brazilian’s faltering confidence when post-match he sees his manager immediately throw him to the wolves, in what I viewed as a very cynical scapegoating attempt, especially given the player’s existing unpopularity with the fans.

Jamal Lewis was also subject to a Bruce bashing in this game, being told that “he has to stop the cross” (that led to the equaliser.) If it was that simple, he probably would have, but maybe Bruce ‘just has to’ formulate a strategy that helps us win more games?

Continually blaming the players is a tired excuse that no one seems to be buying anymore, especially when on a run of only two wins in seventeen matches.

It’s certainly true that we’ve seen some sub par individual performances throughout this season, but in recent weeks, the team has shown some real character and desire to get stuck into matches – a far cry from the timid, passive showings we were subjected to only a few weeks ago.

By singling out players match after match for criticism, Bruce will only alienate himself from the squad, something that may have already taken place, with last night’s reports saying that the majority of the first team squad actually backed Matt Ritchie over Steve Bruce, and can you blame them?

NUFC fans are long tired of Bruce’s excuses, and with the news that he’s now under more pressure than ever, anything less than a win at West Brom could / should spell the end of his tenure in charge.

At this rate, it sounds like most of the players will be as glad to see the back of Steve Bruce as the Newcastle United fanbase will be.

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