‘What’s the point of getting rid of Steve Bruce now?’
The Steve Bruce question.
The question above (‘What’s the point of getting rid of Steve Bruce now?’) is one that I see increasingly being posed.
Not by the vast majority of Newcastle supporters of course, but even then, still a minority of NUFC fans will be saying it at this point.
That small minority will no doubt simply be parroting those journalists and pundits who are saying it, most of them staunch long-time defenders of their mate, Steve Bruce.
Instead of trying to defend Steve Bruce based on what has happened at Newcastle United under his shambolic watch, they have now switched tack.
Well, when the record books show two wins in the last twenty matches, even they have to admit defeat on trying to use that as a positive for the NUFC Head Coach!
So their reasoning now is – with only 60 days and nine games until the Premier League season ends, what point would it serve at this late stage to change things, you might as well just let Steve Bruce see the season out. They will argue that it would just add further disruption on top of the mess and chaos that already exists, plus any new manager / head coach coming in, wouldn’t have enough time to put their stamp on things.
They would even maybe point to how Rafa Benitez couldn’t turn it around when having ten games to play with. Hmmm, if you follow that logic then what you would be accepting is that Newcastle United in 2016 would have had more chance of staying up if they had kept Steve McClaren until the bitter end!
That is of course nonsense, Rafa did make a real positive difference, but in the end it wasn’t enough to save NUFC that season.
In the 10 matches he took charge of, he had a record of Played 10 Won 3 Drawn 4 Lost 3 Points 13.
In McClaren’s 28 PL matches, a record of Played 28 Won 6 Drawn 6 Lost 16 Points 24.
Under Rafa averaging 1.3 points per match, under Steve 0.85 points per game.
Benitez was turning it around and indeed once he got an idea of what he did and didn’t have, the final six games brought 12 points, an average of 2.00 points per game. As Newcastle were relegated by only two points, every reason to think that a few more games, maybe even just one or two, would have have been enough. Particularly when you think that McClaren’s final match was a home defeat to Bournemouth.
Anyway, fast forward once again to our latest / current crisis and the question of…’What’s the point of getting rid of Steve Bruce now?’
For the overwhelming majority of Newcastle fans they would reply, what’s the point of keeping him another single minute, never mind another single game or more?
Would it be possible for Newcastle United to look less likely to win and pick up points than what we have seen under Steve Bruce? Especially with the possible new all-time low we reached with those tactics / team selection against Brighton and the team clearly no longer playing for him, if some of them ever were…?
So whether it was a new man coming in permanently or temporarily, or simply letting Graeme Jones be caretaker for the nine games, the question is: ‘Would Newcastle United be more or less likely to stay up?’
The Steve Bruce loyalists (journalists, pundits etc) want him to be allowed to trundle along to the end of the season, in the hope that by default Newcastle stay up and their man then gets to keep his job for yet another miserable season. If say Fulham barely picked up another point and Newcastle somehow survived with little more than 30 points or so, Bruce’s media mates would then simply rewrite the history of this season, no doubt many of them somehow bizarrely putting the blame on the Newcastle fans for the nonsense we have watched on our TVs.
The thing is, despite even this horrific 20 match run lasting almost four months now, Steve Bruce is still trying to minimise it to the ‘kind of bad run every team has at some point’ (paraphrasing Bruce there) with Newcastle’s bad run, according to Steve Bruce, having been December-January. Quite incredible, especially when the form table shows that in the last six PL matches, Newcastle are the only club not to pick up at least one win and have scored only three goals (two of them from a centre-back!) in those half dozen matches.
The thing is, when you have so many mates in the media who will loyally repeat and spin whatever nonsense you come out with, then you can get away with just about anything, at least when it comes to convincing those people outside the north east.
The thing is, the writing hasn’t been on the wall just these past six games , or these past three and a half months. I would say it has been the last 15 months of the time that Steve Bruce has been here (in total 20 months), though I would even argue that the first five months pointed to serious problems with his management.
These are the two Premier League runs of form I would like you to look at, the first 25% of his time at SJP and the last 75%.
Steve Bruce Newcastle United Premier League form 17 July 2019 to 21 December 2019 (inclusive):
Played 18 Won 7 Drawn 4 Lost 7 Points 25 Goals For 18 Goals Against 24
Average points per game 1.39
Average goals per game scored 1.00 and conceded 1.33
After 21 December 2019 up to 24 March 2021 (the present day):
Played 49 Won 11 Drawn 14 Lost 24 Points 47 Goals For 48 Goals Against 82
Average points per game 0.96
Average goals per game scored 0.98 and conceded 1.67
These last 15 months have been woeful with very few brief spots of relief.
The opening five months saw Steve Bruce carry incredible luck, picking up points in plenty games where often it was scoring with the only chance that came Newcastle’s way and somehow keeping the opposition out who controlled most of the match and chances.
The excellent defence that Rafa Benitez built from average players, had conceded the seventh lowest number of goals in the Premier League in both 2017/18 and 2018/19.
Those good habits playing in front of an inspired Martin Dubravka held up in those opening Steve Bruce five months and played a huge part in papering over the cracks his clueless management was causing.
By the end of last season though, Newcastle’s defence had become the seventh worst at keeping goals out. This season so far it is only the bottom two and Southampton (conceded nine to Man Utd) who have conceded more than Steve Bruce’s team.
Despite most of the £100m+ net spend during Steve Bruce’s reign having been invested in attacking players (Wilson, Carroll, Joelinton, Fraser, ASM) the lack of goal threat is horrendous. Yes it doesn’t help having Callum Wilson out at the minute and ASM to an extent, BUT the whole of last season NUFC average exactly 1.00 goals per game and this time it is even lower than that.
Steve Bruce wants people to believe that injuries have massively affected Newcastle’s goal threat but in reality, Callum Wilson has only been unavailable for these last half dozen games, Miguel Almiron has only been unavailable in two games but Steve Bruce named him on the bench in eight of the 27 matches he could have played in, Carroll only four starts but named on the bench 24 times, Gayle two starts but named amongst subs 16 times, Ryan Fraser in 20 PL matchday squads but only nine starts, even ASM has been in 16 of the 29 PL matchday squads so far.
It would be going a bit too far to describe it as an embarrassment of riches but certainly I would say very few Premier League bosses outside the usual suspects, could claim to have a better collection of attacking options, including those that are back-ups. Steve Bruce hasn’t got a clue and all of the other 19 PL managers would have got more out of these NUFC attacking options. Bruce though reaching the point at Brighton where not only did he refuse to play with a striker, he then refused to change it despite Brighton scoring one, two and three goals, Gayle and Carroll left on the bench throughout.
So…’What’s the point of getting rid of Steve Bruce now?’
Well, if we keep him, Newcastle United are getting relegated unless Fulham totally implode.
Mike Ashley might argue he has £4m to lose due to Steve Bruce refusing to go without a massive pay-off but in the greater scheme of things, this is worth far more to Newcastle United and the owner, than any extra few million Steve Bruce will undeservedly pick up from NUFC.
If you would like to feature on The Mag, submit your article to [email protected]