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Managing expectations of Newcastle United fans – Steve Bruce now gives his explanation

5 months ago
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Thursday saw Steve Bruce meet the media.

The Newcastle United Head Coach speaking to journalists ahead of the game against Manchester City on Friday night.

Amongst the usual questions /information about injuries, player availability and so on, Steve Bruce was asked to clarify what he had meant when interviewed on Talksport on Monday.

Specifically, the use of the word ‘expectation’ in reference to the fans of Newcastle United.

Steve Bruce saying this on Talksport on Monday 10 May 2021:

“Here is the big thing – Newcastle in the last 14/15 years have been in the bottom half of the Premier League.

“We would all love to see Newcastle United being back to signing the Alan Shearers of this world for world record fees but that just isn’t going to happen…It is difficult managing the expectation that is obviously still there.”

Steve Bruce ‘clarifying’ what he meant when speaking to journalists today (Thursday 13 May 2021):

“If the (Newcastle) fans think that I meant their expectations are too high, then that’s not what I meant at all.

“That is my limited vocabulary…What makes this club great is its fans and they come in their thousands and want the club to do well and basically so do I.

“Maybe I used the wrong word with expectations because what makes this club great is the supporters.

“We’re not going to celebrate. We all aspire to take Newcastle into the top ten, that’s where I wanted to be and the supporters want to be.

“It takes time, we haven’t got the capability to change it around, it takes more than one transfer window. We have to keep moving forward. Breaking into the top ten, or top twelve, is the next step.”

The problem with Steve Bruce saying that this was a simple and innocent incorrect use of a word, is that he has time and time again referred to the expectation / expectations of Newcastle fans, with seemingly no need for any clarity as to what he undoubtedly meant!

Coincidentally, today’s comments to the media were ahead of the 36th match of the 2020/21 Premier League season (against Man City at St James Park), I wonder what Steve Bruce was saying ahead of the 36th match of the 2019/20 season (against Spurs at St James Park) – 14 July 2020:

“The biggest thing about Newcastle is the huge expectation (of the fans).

“There comes a time when you have to think we are where we are.

“Now it is my job to try and keep us moving forward if we possibly can…That has been my remit since I walked through the door but where we are at the moment, I don’t think the table lies.

“I’m delighted that we are only a couple of points behind a really good team like Southampton…when I look below us and the enormity of some of the teams that are down there…then we have done okay, we are where we are.

“We have always got to improve and we will try to improve the team again in the summer.

“That’s my job but there has to be a reality check somewhere down the line.”

Hmmm, so what exactly did Steve Bruce mean at this stage last season when talking about the ‘huge expectation’ of the Newcastle fans and there having to be a ‘reality check somewhere down the line…’?

With three matches to go of last (2019/20) season, Steve Bruce stated: ‘I’m delighted that we are only a couple of points behind a really good team like Southampton…’

Then bear in mind that the two previous seasons under Rafa Benitez, Southampton finished eight points behind NUFC in 2017/18, then in 2018/19 the Saints were six points behind.

Moving ahead (‘progressing’???) to this 2020/21 season, Newcastle United are currently one point behind a Southampton team who have won only four of their last twenty three Premier League matches, we’re catching them! A shame Steve Bruce has only five wins in his last twenty six games (all competitions). It isn’t the famous tale of The Tortoise and the Hare, this is the tale of the Tortoise and the Tortoise ‘racing’ towards the Premier League finishing line.

I think Steve Bruce knows exactly what he was doing with his references to Newcastle fan ‘expectation’ on Monday, just as he knew exactly what he was doing / saying at exactly the same stage last season.

Steve Bruce is most definitely a loyal member of team Ashley and Mike Ashley and his minions have constantly put the message out through their friendly media, that Newcastle United fans are deluded because they have expectations of doing better than fighting relegation every season.

Steve Bruce talks of now aiming for ‘top ten, or top twelve’, dear me, Rafa Benitez finished tenth only three seasons ago despite Ashley refusing to properly back the Spaniard in any realistic way after promotion, then it was thirteenth under Rafa in 2019/20 and even Steve Bruce stumbled to thirteenth last season with Rafa’s team, especially the quality goalkeeper and disciplined defence he inherited, not to mention Mike Ashley suddenly allowing Steve Bruce a £65m net spend in his first ever transfer window.

Now we are aiming for twelfth as a step up!

Talk about managing (massaging?) expectations.

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