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Steve Bruce better than Graham Potter claims – Is Bruce cheerleader media chum proved right?

1 month ago

Graham Potter and Steve Bruce were appointed just a couple of months apart.

Potter joining Brighton on 20 May 2019.

Bruce joining Newcastle on 19 July 2019.

Brighton having to pay a reported £3m compensation to Championship club Swansea for the release of Graham Potter and his coaching staff.

Newcastle United having to pay a reported £6m compensation to Championship club Sheffield Wednesday for the release of Steve Bruce and his coaching staff.

Since taking up their current jobs, the two managers / head coaches have been backed by a net spend of £125m in Bruce’s case starting with the summer 2019 transfer window, whilst the net spend figure of Graham Potter is £61m across these past five windows.

During Bruce’s time at Newcastle United, the NUFC fans have pointed to various managers at other Premier League clubs who they wouldn’t mind at St James Park compared to Steve Bruce, not the likes of Guardiola and Klopp, more so managers at lower down clubs where the general belief is that with Newcastle United they could be getting significantly better results and playing better football. Marcelo Bielsa an obvious one, whilst another is Graham Potter…

Throughout this horrendous Steve Bruce time at Newcastle United, the Head Coach has been able to rely on the absolute loyalty and devotion of friend and Telegraph reporter, Luke Edwards.

From the very start when Newcastle fans reacted in disbelief to somebody with such a shocking management record as Steve Bruce getting the job, Edwards has been on the front foot (unlike Bruce’s team…), ridiculing the NUFC supporters for their criticism of his mate.

The cheerleading from Luke Edwards often reaching laughable depths, as he had proceeded to dig a deeper and deeper hole for himself. Happy to antagonise Newcastle fans time and time again, in order to prop up Steve Bruce.

The latest occasion came last week, on BBC 5 Live Sport he was part of a panel discussing amongst other things, Newcastle United and especially Steve Bruce and the fact that an overwhelming majority of NUFC fans want him out.

We got the usual ignorance from the likes of Glenn Murray who was also on the panel, about how Newcastle fans are totally in the wrong, nice / great guy Steve Bruce doing a brilliant job etc etc.

One of the reasons for his presence was obviously so Luke Edwards could give an expert Newcastle United view, so what did he come out with…?

“Steve Bruce has a better record than someone like Graham Potter who is perceived to be doing a good job!”

When BBC 5 Live Sport pushed that quote and the overall discussion on Twitter, it was predictably met with howls of derision from Newcastle fans pointing out why Luke Edwards was wrong (yet again) in what he was claiming about his mate Brucey.

Luke Edwards reacting to that himself on Twitter with:

“We talked for 15 mins about Newcastle United and it was lively.

“The fact I’m fidgeting around in my chair is normally sign I’m getting agitated (angry).

“This is not a criticism of Graham Potter either.

“It’s about perceptions, expectations…”

So this argument from Brucey’s chief cheerleader appears to be that Newcastle fans are wrong because they are relying on faulty ‘perceptions’ as well as (deluded…) ‘expectations’ that Newcastle United should automatically be doing better than a club like Brighton.

Well after almost a hundred games each in charge of the two clubs, are Newcastle fans totally wrong about Steve Bruce and Graham Potter?

When it comes to ‘perceptions’, Newcastle fans have seen the two managers come together four times.

In the 2019/20 season, Brighton came to St James Park and completely dominated, so much so that even Steve Bruce admitted Newcastle got lucky! It somehow ended 0-0 despite Brighton having an astonishing 71% possession and playing lovely football, only failing to put goals on the end of it.

In the away game that (2019/20) season, yet again Brighton played all the football as Bruce went even more negative than usual with his tactics. The Graham Potter side having ‘only’ 63% possession this time but once again unable to put goals on top of the domination, another 0-0 draw with Newcastle having only one effort on target all match.

Fast forward to 2020/21 and same story, Brighton completely dominating both matches…BUT now putting goals on the end of it. Graham Potter and his players absolutely smashing Steve Bruce’s negative and backward set up, Brighton winning 3-0 in both matches and Newcastle very lucky it wasn’t a lot worse.

The thing is, for Newcastle fans with Graham Potter and Steve Bruce, when it comes to comparisons, it isn’t only about the results.

With his 23 years of management experience, Newcastle fans can see absolutely no progress or indeed plan from Steve Bruce, it is almost as if those 23 years of management experience have included not winning a single trophy or indeed, a single finish in the top nine of the Premier League. Not to mention the very worst Premier League record of anybody who has managed the kind of number of PL games Bruce has done.

With Graham Potter, the Newcastle fans saw somebody who might not have the highest quality squad but who, like Bielsa, has a clear idea of how he wants his team to play and is trying to improve the players as both individuals and as part of a team.

What exactly is the Brucey ‘philosophy’ and where are the existing players that he has improved these past couple of years? Indeed, ahead of the Leeds match on Friday night, Steve Bruce bemoaned the fact that he hasn’t been allowed more money to bring in better players than he currently has. Yes we know that overall Mike Ashley is a nightmare BUT can Bruce really complain on this front when he has repeatedly stated that he has personally signed off all incoming transfers in his time at Newcastle and he has allowed to lay out on £20m Wilson, £20m ASM, £40m Joelinton, £15m Lewis, £25m Willock…not to mention he also inherited £20m Almiron who had only had a handful of games under Rafa Benitez before Steve Bruce took over.

Now in their third seasons, what progression and development are we seeing from the two clubs / managers?

Well, going back over these past nine months, this is the 35 game record (all competitions) for Brighton and Newcastle United:

Newcastle United: Played 35 Won 7 Drawn 9 Lost 19 Goals For 38 Goals against 62

Brighton: Played 35 Won 14 Drawn 10 Lost 11 Goals For 34 Goals Against 30

Hmmm, I don’t know about you but I think we can see which direction the wind appears to be blowing…the work Graham Potter has done with his players appearing to pay off and clear improvement seen, whilst with Steve Bruce, simply never ending chaos and no visible signs of progression / improvement whatsoever.

In the most recent nine months of stats above, Bruce has lost well over half (19 of 35) the matches, whilst Potter has lost only 31% (11 of 35).

Graham Potter winning twice as many games (14 v 7) as Steve Bruce.

Whilst it is quite horrendous just how clueless Steve Bruce is, when it comes to doing anything to improve the defending of the team, more than twice as many goals conceded (62 v 30) than Brighton.

Only early days this season but after six matches, Brighton have five wins and one defeat, Newcastle with four defeats and two draws.

Graham Potter fourth top of the Premier League and playing in the League Cup third round on Wednesday, Steve Bruce third bottom of the Premier League and already out of the League Cup at the first attempt. Brighton conceded four goals and Newcastle thirteen.

Should Newcastle fans have higher aspirations than Brighton supporters these days? Well, that can be a question for another day.

What is clear though to me, is that when Brighton were looking for a new boss back in 2019, they were looking for somebody who could potentially take the club forward, a young (Graham Potter now aged 46) up and coming appointment who had done well so for in his early management career.

What exactly Newcastle United (Mike Ashley) were / was looking for back in 2019…well, it certainly wasn’t something that the Newcastle fans wanted and only the staunch Brucey loyalists in football / media will now still be arguing that those NUFC supporters were wrong with their fears of appointing him.

Put it another way, I would love to see Luke Edwards go out and find some Brighton fans who would swap Graham Potter for Steve Bruce…


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