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Opinion

Mike Ashley doesn’t employ anyone with such skills at the entire club – The closest is Steve Bruce

5 months ago
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You know, you have to hand it to some pundits and people in the media. When people are given a platform with which to orate an opinion, it shouldn’t be taken lightly.

When I was young, you’d look at people on the telly and in the printed press and respect their opinion. You might disagree of course but usually you wouldn’t lose complete respect for their blinkered stance.

The media shouldn’t be used to spout blatant lies and suspect opinions. In 2021 though, it seems that some people hold opinions above facts. I suppose at least when it’s out and out cringeworthy it only embarrasses the perpetrator.

On the subject of embarrassment, did anyone see Dion Dublin “applaud” Steve Bruce on Saturday’s Football Focus? If you haven’t seen it, go and check it out, it’s toe curling stuff. He says Bruce has done a “brilliant job”, which I immediately filed under the term “utter nonsense”…and his opinion obviously has nothing to do with the fact that they are former teammates at Manchester United?

Dublin was nauseatingly comical, however, it’s former Toon player Steve Howey’s latest utterances on Newcastle United and in particular Steve Bruce, that are totally ridiculous.

“For me, at the moment, being Manager of Newcastle United is a poisoned chalice. You could get a top manager in but if you’re not going to give them the funds to buy the right players, then you’re always going to struggle. I can’t think of anyone that could do better [than Steve Bruce] because top managers would want a vast sum of money and I don’t think they would get it from the owner”

For heavens sake, where do you start? The first thing that stands out of this for me is the obvious Freudian slip of “You could get a top manager in…” Whoops! That’s damning and he’s ignorant to his own argument in trying to defend an obvious mate in Steve Bruce. Very poor punditry that is easily seen through. He’s just thrown the object of his defence under the bus.

This season, relegation from the Premier League has been sealed both theoretically and mathematically long before the final game of the season, thankfully sparing fans the final day relegation rigmarole on Sky Sports and Match of the Day. The bottom three teams this season have been of such dire quality that it’s highly likely none of the trio will even reach 30 points. Ahead of Tuesday night’s matches: Fulham, West Brom and Sheffield United had lost 19, 20 and 28 games respectively. Indeed, when we went on a run of form where we won the odd game in 20, neither of the sides below us got into a serious position to gazump us. Fulham got to within a point or two but if we think we have been poor, how bad have the bottom three been?

People may point to injuries (Dion Dublin used that excuse as well on Saturday’s cringefest) and Steve Bruce himself has beaten that drum to death, yet even this has been debunked with the top players having been available to him for sufficient periods by which to get results. In fact, the argument is actually a moot point. The injuries have supposedly been THAT bad, yet we’re STILL safe well before the last game of the season.

I would actually reverse that particular comment of Howey’s. I would say that almost ANYONE could have kept Newcastle United in this league THIS season. It has really been that bad. But the part of Howey’s nonsense that actually rings true is the backing of any self-respecting manager remark. Kevin Keegan? Undermined. Chris Hughton? Chewed up and spat out. Rafa Benitez? Now there’s a conundrum.

Benitez was backed to a point, but not sufficiently, and he had to make do with what little he got given. He was belatedly given Salomon Rondon and then finally Miguel Almiron, lo and behold, he guided the team to form that, over a full season, would have resulted in qualifying for Europe. An inconvenient truth for some.

Howey seems to have omitted the fact that Steve Bruce has been backed like no other manager under Ashley, certainly not to the extent seen since that hopeless clown Steve McClaren was in charge of ruining the show. In fact, Steve Bruce even said so himself. He waxed lyrical about not having had so much money afforded to him in his entire 20+ years as a manager. And that was after his first transfer window as manager, with Bruce proclaiming that he was happy with his squad. The failure to push the club on has been all on him.

Just when you thought it was safe to switch on the TV or read a newspaper, up pops Lawrie Sanchez this Tuesday morning, praising Steve Bruce:

“He has done a cracking job keeping them [Newcastle United] up. He will always get a job because he will always get you promoted or keep you up. That’s his forte.”

Excuse me? I don’t need to tell anyone that Bruce has relegated teams, jumped ship/sacked before relegation and struggles to get teams up from the Championship on a frequent basis. A bit of a contradiction for someone who repeatedly tells us that he’s no quitter. Yes there’s the odd promotion in there but to use the word “always” presents the opinion as fact. The term “cracking job” is an opinion that I can’t argue with. I strongly disagree but he’s entitled to his opinion. Others will decide if it’s true.

Sanchez then went on to pull A grade wool over everybody’s eyes in saying that when teams get rid of an English manager and get a foreign manager in to spend money, they have to go back to the English manager to sort the problems out caused by the foreign one.

Shame on you Sanchez. I’ll overlook the not so subtle, borderline xenophobia and highlight that the truth in our case is quite the opposite. Rafa Benitez was afforded little (he actually had the club in profit on transfers at one time) and Bruce has been given so much in comparison (circa £100m net spend) since his arrival and he has taken us backwards. I really wish that someone would pull these people up on their lies, for as long as they are allowed to keep saying them, some people will actually believe them.

This season, Mike Ashley, Steve Bruce and Newcastle United have dodged a bullet with the bottom three of the Premier League being so poor. If they don’t realise that, they’re in denial. I fully expect Bruce to be given next season in the hot seat and the cycle to continue, with the team parking themselves low down in the bottom half. If a decent transfer window can be had then we may stay afloat and bother the lower mid-table positions. That also depends on the management of the squad.

This has proven problematic, not just over the last two seasons under Bruce’s stewardship but over his entire career as Head Coach. The last 22 months have given us a snapshot that I, as a self confessed person who hasn’t wanted Bruce at the club since it was first mooted in the early noughties, would have predicted almost verbatim. Fall outs with players, fitness issues, a lack of any tactical awareness whatsoever, albeit interspersed with momentary periods of decent form and good results. That was always going to happen with a few decent players in tow and Bruce will require more of the same to even stand still.

The bit I have to raise a massive question over is, how much money will Bruce require to be given to him, to push this team to a mid-table entity?

You can’t appeal to the Mike Ashley football mind because (by his own admission) he doesn’t have one…and for once, I actually believe him. Sadly, he doesn’t employ anyone with such skills at the entire club. The closest is Steve Bruce.

And isn’t that a factual and damning indictment of our current situation…

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