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Opinion

Announced change shows how far standards dropped under Steve Bruce at Newcastle United

1 month ago
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Steve Bruce is now eleven days gone.

Newcastle United fans really looking forward to a first home match in fourteen and a half years, where neither Mike Ashley or the now former Head Coach will play any part in diminishing the occasion.

Whilst media and rival fans talk about all kinds of deluded expectations that Newcastle supporters supposedly have for instant change at their club…the reality is ‘slightly’ different.

That reality perfectly summed up by Newcastle fans celebrating so much, the fact that their players have worked a five day week preparing for this Chelsea match.

At no other Premier League club would this be even news, yet this is how low standards dropped under Steve Bruce.

Danny Rose’s loan spell back in 2020 was a total waste of time on the pitch, as he never looked fully fit or giving it 100%, however, he did do one valuable thing. The then Tottenham loan player exposing the fact that Steve Bruce gave the Newcastle players (and himself) a ridiculous amount of time off, away from the training ground. Rose said he couldn’t believe it and had never experienced anything like it at any other club, nor had he heard of similar elsewhere.

It became a running joke (like so many other things…) under Steve Bruce and it came to a head when after a disastrous start to the season of three defeats and one draw, only two weeks into the season Bruce gave himself and all the non-international players and extended holiday. Instead of using the fortnight to do everything they could to prepare for the game at Man Utd, the players were given over a week off and Steve Bruce went on holiday to Portugal. As part of his excuse for doing so, the then Head Coach pointed to how many of his players were away on international duty BUT the truth was that only a small handful of them were and NONE of them were first team regulars. None of those away with their countries ahead of that Man Utd match started at Old Trafford, so Steve Bruce could have been working with his starting eleven for the full two weeks (with the odd day or two off).

Newcastle United were hammered 4-1 at Old Trafford and not for the first or last time, the NUFC players didn’t look as fit as the opposition. This despite Man Utd having had countless players away on international duty.

Talking about the Newcastle players training for a full week (five days) before a match for the first time in ages (since Rafa Benitez was manager…?), Graeme Jones has stated: ‘The more time you spend on the training ground it is simple maths. You have got a better chance to perform.’

I have loved the fact that in this short time he is spending as interim manager, Graeme Jones is being the total professional, including when being asked about Steve Bruce always sticking to the line of good manager / head coach BUT…then in other comments making it so clear that there were major shortcomings at Newcastle under Bruce. None more so than the ‘simple maths’ of the harder you work in advance, the better chance you give yourself on a matchday.

Graeme Jones also made the point ahead of this Chelsea match and ahead of hopefully a new manager being announced very shortly, that this season reaching safety or better, will be predominantly down to the existing players at the club. New signings in January will hopefully help but even then, it is unrealistic to think that the vast majority of the team won’t be made up of players who started the season already at NUFC. There are still 12 Premier League games before there is any chance of new signings being on the pitch, the away game at Southampton on 2 January 2022 will be the 21st PL match of the season, so only a maximum of 17 games that new signings could influence.

Nobody pretends that one full week of training is a magic answer to all Newcastle’s challenges on the pitch this season BUT both fans and players will be approaching this Chelsea match in a far more positive frame of mind than otherwise would have been the case with Steve Bruce still here.

I can’t wait for the game today and everybody truly united for the first time in ages.

No guarantee of a win or even a draw, but there again, all of us knew the score when we very first realised we were Newcastle United fans.

Graeme Jones speaking ahead of the Chelsea match:

“These are hard working boys [at Newcastle United], very professional.

“They have responded well to being in [at the training ground] for five days [ahead of the Chelsea match].

“So long as you don’t kill people physically, the work has to be measured, the more time you spend on the training ground it is simple maths.

“You have got a better chance to perform.

“We have covered more areas and the big difference is that I have got these ideas and I can just implement them.

“The players trust me enough to pitch it correctly physically.

“There was a need for it.

“Why? Because we needed to be better than we were at Crystal Palace…and we have the Champions League winners coming to town.

‘The response has been brilliant from the boys.

“We have a good core here [but] for different reasons, we have started poorly [this season].

“I can assure you though that they care about this club and I see January as an opportunity to help the group that is here.

“The most important thing, is to get the most out of the core players we [already] have.”

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