On the day Steve Bruce was confirmed as Newcastle manager, I went for a pint with a couple of mates who are Liverpool and Spurs fans respectively.
They were as dumbfounded as me at the appointment and the only thing that stopped them crying with laughter at how stupid it was, was the sight of me nearly actually crying.
As I was sat there I was stuck in some kind of emotional limbo, somewhere between crying into my pint, laughing at how inept Lee Charnley and Mike Ashley are at making good decisions for our football club and pure, unadulterated anger that we had replaced a proven success and great man of principle with a proven failure who would struggle to get a Tesco loyalty card.
Through this veritable buffet of emotions I had a moment of remarkable insight. Like most football fans I’m often wrong with my opinions, but without blowing my own trumpet, I was absolutely bang on this time.
I confidently and correctly predicted two things. 1) Steve Bruce wouldn’t be very good 2) Newcastle fans would be painted as bad guys and in the wrong by the media for not giving ”Brucey” a chance and being unhappy at the bad performances.
Some kind of oracle me, like. I expected it from some. The Talksport dinosaur brigade including Allardyce, Keys and Gray who would sing the praises of anyone who replaced big, bad, nasty Rafa. Local journalists who classed Bruce as a mate, I felt for Luke Edwards and in particularly George Caulkin, who are mates with Bruce but good journalists and knowledgable fans and know he’s a poor appointment. Robbie Savage has been the most frustrating and hilarious, considering he refused to play for Bruce at Birmingham, forced a move to Blackburn, then was actually proved right as Birmingham were subsequently relegated, and now he thinks he has the right and “first hand knowledge” to wax lyrical about Bruce’s “qualities” as a manager, and pan us for being unhappy with his appointment.
I went even further with my predictions. I predicted I’d end up disagreeing with Alan Shearer.
Today Shearer spoke to The Chronicle about the win against Manchester United, and indeed his best mate Bruce. He said:
“I was delighted for the team, because when you put in a performance like they did (against Leicester), you know you’re going to get battered.
“They’ve had a hammering, and rightly so, but you always get a right to reply as a footballer and football manager.
“If you get a result like that (against Man United), it certainly gives you something to go and build on.”
“I mean, there have been some poor performances. Norwich away and Leicester away were terrible.
“Then you look at Tottenham and Man United” Shearer then went on to speak about the current crop of players and potential signings in January. “There’s something in there to work with.
“If you can keep the majority of the squad fit, then I think they’ll do all right. “Then if you look at investment in January, and hopefully that’ll come as well.
“I think it was a huge relief to everyone, including Steve, who I was delighted for, because he’s had to put up with a lot of cr*p over the last couple of weeks.”
All of what Shearer has said here is bang on, all except that last line.
Bruce hasn’t put up with a load of cr*p. He’s had to put up with deserved criticism because he isn’t doing a very good job, because Spurs and Manchester United aside, he’s done exactly what he’s done for the vast majority of his entire managerial career, which is show he isn’t good enough.
It breaks my heart to disagree with Shearer, and of course he is doing what anyone does, which is stick up for their mates even when they don’t deserve it. However the narrative from Shearer and most pundits seems to always be, if we lose and play badly blame the players, if we win praise Bruce.
Don’t get me wrong I think his team selection and tactics against Manchester United were perfect. Bold and brave and it was the best performance of the season.
More of the same at Chelsea please. HTL!