Luke Edwards has seen a big shift in his standing among Newcastle fans this past year.
The Telegraph man was once held in the upper echelons of trustworthy reporters when it came to all things Newcastle United.
Now, while still a very good journalist, his staunch defence of his friend Steve Bruce, and criticism of Rafa Benitez, particularly on Twitter, has rubbed a lot of supporters up the wrong way.
Edwards believes Bruce is on a hiding to nothing and deserves more credit than he’s been given, a narrative that seems to run throughout national press that we, as a set of fans, are unnecessarily mean to Bruce.
Some of the accusations that he is an Ashley apologist are, in my humble opinion, utter nonsense, but he’s been involved in a few unpleasant spats this season on Twitter when it comes to him defending his views. It makes for very unpleasant reading at times and is the ugly side of NUFC social media.
Whatever you think of the current coach, or Edwards, or even if you rate either of them in their respective fields, Edwards recent article on Bruce and the huge role he’s played in this £300m takeover has caused quite a stir.
Here’s some snippets from his latest piece for The Telegraph:
“If he is replaced, Bruce should be thanked not bid good riddance.
“Without him, Newcastle would not be on the verge of a takeover, they would be in dire straits and Ashley would almost certainly be staying as owner for the next few years.
“He is no hero like Benitez, you can even continue to say he is not a world class manager like the man he replaced, but Newcastle supporters should remember all he did when others were too scared to take on the challenge.
“Most of all, they should say thank you – even if they are still desperate to see him go, if and when the takeover is confirmed. Because without Bruce, Newcastle’s future would look bleak rather than bright and nobody said that last summer”.
Now, I don’t rate Bruce in the slightest, but I do hope he is remembered as some kind of steady steward rather than with vitriol and hate, despite the football being dire to watch at times.
It seems he is going to leave Newcastle without inflicting a disaster on us which many, including myself, predicted Bruce would do long term. However this notion he took the job when others were scared is a little far fetched.
The other choices just probably knew they didn’t want to work with Ashley, or had good offers from other top flight clubs around Europe, or in fact both. However it’s this following paragraph which is the most controversial, and ultimately incorrect (in my opinion) statements Edwards makes:
“Harangued, criticised and the target for sustained and spiteful criticism on social media – but never from those who attended games, home or away – Bruce has shown remarkable strength of character, carrying the players with him, shielding and protecting, guiding them relatively serenely through one of the stormiest campaigns in recent memory on Tyneside”.
Firstly, there are lots and lots of season ticket holders, and regular away game followers who have been very critical of Bruce. Thousands and thousands in fact.
They get behind their team during games and that should not be confused with rating Bruce. It’s the same principle that saw many of us saying unkind things about Joselu’s ability, yet whenever the ball came near him willing him to score, and subsequently celebrating when he did.
Saying it’s only fans who don’t attend games who criticise him is just pure ignorance, regardless of wether your sticking up for your mate.
Secondly, “shielding and protecting” the players? My biggest criticism of Bruce has been his constant deflection of blame and throwing players under the bus. That THEY aren’t good enough to do what HE wants when everything about his managerial CV suggests otherwise.
The media myth that Bruce plays attacking football, and we don’t have any good players is just that, a myth.
Luke Edwards has said a lot of correct things regarding Ashley and Newcastle United, and he’s written some insightful articles and has been unfairly treated at times, but this one feels a little off.