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Bizarre as BBC Sport calls for fresh chance for Steve Bruce now he’s ‘stopped the rot’

5 months ago

A strange one from BBC Sport on Newcastle United and in particular, Steve Bruce.

Strange as in just how far certain media will bend over backwards in twisting the narrative in favour of the NUFC Head Coach.

I say ‘certain media’ but in reality, it is difficult to find many / any journalists who give any kind of a fair and proper evaluation on Steve Bruce and his time at St James Park, that your average Newcastle United supporter would recognise.

Any positive, no matter how small, is hyped up to the maximum.

Any negative, no matter how large, is dismissed / diluted, or simply ignored.

After the Allan Saint-Maximin turn around against Burnley on Sunday, these are extracts from a piece by Alistair Magowan who covers Newcastle United for BBC Sport:

‘Has Steve Bruce stopped the rot at Newcastle and does he deserve a fresh chance?’

‘In addition to the overhanging prospect of a takeover, there has been a coronavirus outbreak, injuries to several key players, leaks from the training ground, accusations of Bruce losing the dressing room and bans for local journalists.’

‘But through it all Bruce has retained the support of owner Mike Ashley…They are not safe yet, but Fulham’s momentum has ebbed away leaving Newcastle a chance to pull clear from the bottom three and perhaps even contemplate whether Bruce can get the club back to where fans think it belongs’

Should Bruce be given next season to prove himself?

‘Bruce has admitted finding this season “testing”, but has highlighted his experience of “20-odd years” in management and recent results show the team retains a fighting spirit to stay in the division despite a nadir at Brighton.

‘Injuries to key players such as Saint-Maximin and Jamaal Lascelles, who both had after-effects of coronavirus, plus Wilson and Isaac Hayden have all been significant. In a normal season questions might be valid about training methods although most of the problems have come during games. Yet this season has been anything but normal. A lack of a pre-season and a shortened campaign means games have been almost constant, and plenty of other teams have suffered similar injury problems.

‘Add a lack of fans, which has affected all clubs but often can be a difference at St James’ Park, and it is hard to judge how Bruce has fared.

‘As a boyhood Newcastle fan he knows simply surviving in the Premier League is not good enough. But with Wilson and Saint-Maximin a success when fit, and a mid-season nudge towards a more attacking style of play, there have been some signs of progress among the gloom.

‘Bruce, who led Newcastle to 13th last term, might argue he deserves another season to prove himself given a campaign littered with unprecedented challenges.’

So fellow Newcastle fans, as the man from BBC Sport asks / declares, is it the case that Steve Bruce ‘deserves another season’ at St James Park…?

Here are a few stats / facts that I think are essential to consider when as a Newcastle fan, a neutral, or media person, you wonder what Steve Bruce deserves…

As things currently stand, this is the most disastrous Premier League ever, so far, for Newcastle when it comes to ‘accumulating’ points. Steve Bruce currently only has 32 points and still needs three more to beat the worst ever of 34 points – 2008/09 under Kinnear, six more points to beat the 37 points in the other relegation season of 2015/16 under McClaren, eight more points to beat the only other time when NUFC have failed to register 40 points, the 39 points in 2014/15 under Pardew and Carver in charge for exactly 19 games each. If you can’t manage 40 points as the very bare minimum, how is there any even remote argument for claiming Steve Bruce should keep his job?

The likes of BBC Sport and the rest, make out like Steve Bruce is a pauper when it comes to the transfer market. However, reality is that whilst Mike Ashley starved Rafa Benitez of funds and undermined him, with the Spaniard having absolutely no net spend during his three years at the club. For Steve Bruce, he has been allowed a net spend of over £100m on transfers.

Altogether, Steve Bruce has signed 14 senior players on either permanent or temporary (loan) deals during his 21 months at NUFC and yet only one of them (Joelinton) was in the starting eleven against Burnley on Sunday – the team lined up as Dubravka, Murphy, Fernandez, Clark, Dummett, Ritchie, Shelvey, Sean Longstaff, Almiron, Gayle, Joelinton.

When it came to the subs though, a massive seven of eight outfield players who didn’t make the team were Steve Bruce signings – Darlow, Carroll, Saint-Maximin, Wilson, Lewis, Hendrick, Krafth, Manquillo, Willock. Bruce HAS been backed with decent cash during his time at Newcastle compared to many other PL bosses, yet so many of his signings can’t get a game ahead of the players he inherited. Yes, ASM and Wilson would have started on Sunday if fully fit but what about the rest? Ryan Fraser is another Bruce signing who struggles to get a game, only in the team nine times out of the twenty occasions named in a matchday squad.

When it is made out that Steve Bruce is the poor relation compared to rivals, on Sunday he used eight different players in forward / progressive positions (strikers, midfielders, wing-backs) who in total cost Newcastle £145m – ASM £20m, Gayle £10m, Joelinton £40m, Almiron £20m, Ritchie £12m, Murphy £10m, Shelvey £13m and Wilson £20m.

Newcastle United have won only three of their last twenty two games (all competitions), a run lasting over four months.

The rot has been there far longer though, before Sunday’s win, Steve Bruce had won only 11 of the last 50 Premier League matches going back 16 months, a win ratio of only 22%.

In contrast, Newcastle lost 24 of those 50 PL matches, a losing ratio of 48%.

In those 50 PL matches before Sunday, only 51 goals scored.

In Rafa Benitez’ two PL seasons, both of the two years, only six PL teams conceded less goals than Newcastle. Steve Bruce has taken the same players and turned them into a back line that has currently this season conceded more goals than all but two of the PL clubs outside the bottom two.

In 23 of the 31 PL games this season, Newcastle have failed to score in the first half due largely to Bruce’s ultra negative tactics having handed control to the opposition from the start.

Before Sunday, only four times in his entire 21 months at NUFC, had Steve Bruce managed to win a PL game when Allan Saint-Maximin didn’t start the game. The Head Coach absolutely reliant on his only attacking tactic of hoping ASM does something by himself.

The football has, with very rare exceptions, been terrible under Steve Bruce.

Injuries to key players have been massively exaggerated, Newcastle having no worse a record when it comes to their bets players than most others. Isaac Hayden is mentioned by BBC Sport as one of the players to have been missed significantly…before Sunday he had only been unavailable for three PL matches. Callum Wilson also listed, he has been missing from only eight of the 31 PL matchday squads.

Before these last two matches (Spurs and Burnley), the previous 19 had seen Newcastle 17 times score either no goals or only one. That is the reality of life under Steve Bruce.

Yes we all know Mike Ashley is by far the biggest problem BUT that doesn’t stop Steve Bruce also being a massive negative for Newcastle United and somebody who needs to go ASAP, certainly not allowed to stay yet another season of misery for NUFC fans.


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