Get your daily update and weekly newsletter by signing up today!


I would go back if Steve Bruce was replaced by Eddie Howe – An explanation

10 months ago

I don’t think Eddie Howe is the best manager the Premier League has ever seen.

I do though believe Steve Bruce is the worst that has been seen in this Premier League era.

Certainly if you are looking at managers who have overseen a decent number of matches, never mind the failure Steve Bruce has overseen in 471 PL matches, which includes 79 at Newcastle United so far…

This is the entire dismal record of Steve Bruce in the Premier League over more than two decades of management, where he has never won a single trophy and never finished in the top nine of the top tier –

Played 471 Won 133 Drawn 130 Lost 208 Goals For 490 Goals Against 643 

Steve Bruce teams averaging 1.12 points and 1.04 goals per PL game.

When it comes to the current stooge, I think only John Carver can be seen as an equivalent when it comes to management ability during the Mike Ashley era. Which takes some doing of course, when you also have Pardew, JFK, Fat Sam and McClaren as competition.

Though at least you could have a bit of a laugh at some of the nonsense he came out with (best coach the Premier League has ever seen etc etc) in press conferences, whereas when Brucey is reading from his Mike Ashley PR prepared output your mood only darkens ever further, provoking extremes of anger about your football club that clearly aren’t good for you.

The thing is, much as I hate Mike Ashley, if he sacked Steve Bruce and appointed even a relatively credible manager such as Eddie Howe, I would almost certainly go back on a regular basis, even picking up a season ticket again.

An explanation as to the key to it, is I think…

At least when you have someone like Rafa Benitez at Newcastle United, you can at least kind of forget about / ignore Mike Ashley a lot of the time, though he obviously still lurks in your subconscious.

However, when you have a Bruce, Pardew, Carver – they just remind you of Ashley every time they say or do anything.

This international break is surely the time when Newcastle United have to sack Steve Bruce, although of course Mike Ashley won’t, well he won’t just so long as Bruce keeps reading from that prepared speech that deflects attention and criticism away from the owner.

On 1 August 2020, Bournemouth announced that Eddie Howe had left the club by mutual consent after their relegation.

He has been linked with a number of jobs this past year and indeed in May 2021 turned down Celtic.

As I say above, I don’t see Eddie Howe as a Premier League great, at least not so far, but what he would give Newcastle United is a decent bloke in charge of team affairs and somebody who always speaks well and did a great job helping minnows Bournemouth to be competitive for so many seasons.

Howe also had his teams playing good football, or at least trying to, whilst his character shone through when he became the first Premier League manager to voluntarily take a pay cut with the onset of the pandemic.

I was talking to somebody yesterday who was of the opinion that you might as well stick with Steve Bruce because Mike Ashley is the big problem.

We all do of course know that Ashley underlies everything that is poisonous about Newcastle United this past decade and a half BUT it is nonsense to say that who is or isn’t manager (or head coach) is an irrelevance until the owner sells up. To me, it is like the equivalent of saying it doesn’t matter whether Hendrick or ASM plays until Ashley leaves.

As I indicate above, the embarrassment and shame I feel when Steve Bruce speaks as a (THE!) representative of Newcastle United, is immense.

However, on the pitch it couldn’t be clearer just how shockingly bad he is, with quite literally nobody else able to do a worse job with the players he has available. With a net spend of £125m+ allowed in the 25 months he has been here.

I give you as a perfect and most recent item of evidence, Steve Bruce’s cunning plan against Southampton.

This was a Southampton team who arrived at St James Park having lost all six of their last half dozen away Premier League games, conceding a massive 18 goals in these six games, failing to score themselves in three of the last five.

In actual fact, Southampton winning only one of their last 14 PL away matches and that was at bottom of the table soon to be relegated Sheffield United in March, with actually the last 12 Southampton away games seeing that win at Bramall Lane but losing all of the other 11!

Since 7 December 2020, the Southampton PL away record reads Played 14 W1 D2 L11 GF 8 GA 36.

So what does Steve Bruce do at home against this relegation rival with such a dismal away record?

Well, he will claim that it was an attacking 3-5-2 tactical set-up that he sent out onto the pitch. Yet the reality of course is that we saw from very early on and throughout the first half, what actually looked an 8-0-2, that often became a 10-0-0 as even Wilson and ASM joined the rest of the NUFC team camped around their own box hoping that a Southampton team gifted total domination don’t score.

Southampton had 63% possession and 11 shots in the first half (Newcastle 37% possession and 4 shots), as for this notion that Newcastle United then became the dominant team in the second half…the reality is that the stats after the break were 67% possession for Southampton (Newcastle actually having the ball less than a third of the time) and 11 shots to Newcastle’s 6.

Yes NUFC did have chances in the second half, some of them good chances, amongst which they scored their two goals from. However, this was simply the players doing it for themselves: ASM breaking, Wilson clever movement and finish, Willock and Almiron willing runners.

Newcastle got the two goals and lucky point DESPITE Steve Bruce, not because of him.

Honestly, with any other current Premier League manager (or Eddie Howe) in charge on Saturday, Newcastle United win the game.

If Ralph Hasenhuttl had a quartet of Wilson, Willock, ASM and Almiron, do you honestly think he would have set up so negatively as Steve Bruce did…and then do nothing about it for the entire first half.

It is just stating the obvious of course, no credible manager would be making the mess of it that Steve Bruce is managing to do, as has been the case these past 25 months.

Incredible luck, NUFC players with individual brilliance (ASM) and other qualities (Wilson’s goals etc) taking matters into their own hands, some woeful competing clubs at the bottom (only 29 points needed last season to stay up) and so on.

Steve Bruce also turning Rafa’s excellent disciplined defensive organisation (only six clubs conceded less goals than NUFC in 2017/18 and 2018/19) into a shambles (only four PL teams conceded more than NUFC in 2020/21). With eight goals conceded in three PL games already, Bruce is looking to smash that AND he will do, unless he is removed.

As I say, Eddie Howe is available and has been waiting for the right job, even with Mike Ashley in charge I couldn’t see him turning a chance at Newcastle United down.

I wouldn’t expect miracles, just a far better organised and more attractive Newcastle team to watch and playing to the strengths of players such as ASM, Wilson, Willock and Almiron, instead of having them operate simply as extra defenders most of the time.

Plus of course, somebody with integrity and intelligence speaking before and after matches, rather than the embarrassing garbage we hear coming out of Steve Bruce’s mouth.

Change desperately needed but almost certainly not forthcoming, instead in 12 days time there will be Steve Bruce continuing his love affair with Man Utd, all but apologising for Newcastle United thinking they are even worthy of being on the same pitch as them.


If you would like to feature on The Mag, submit your article to [email protected]

Have your say

© 2022 The Mag. All Rights Reserved. Design & Build by Mediaworks