It’s going to appear that I’m damning Bruce with the words I’m about to impart. I won’t be alone judging by the furore on social media after Wednesday night’s result.
I don’t dislike the man; I just think that as a manager he’s limited and will never be good enough to manage a top-level team – and his latest comments really aren’t helping.
Three defeats in a row since “getting safe” and two games left which don’t look that winnable right now. Results alone are probably enough for most of us to want to see a swift end to Bruce’s reign. Bewildering selections, bizarre substitutions and crazy positional choices have all left us head scratching.
I get that he’s had injuries and disruption. But he’s also made a lot of very strange decisions. Even when we came out of lockdown and picked up eight points quickly, I felt there were signs that all was not right. We’ve failed to beat a lot of sides below us which when you consider some of his comments is hard to take.
Let’s start with his excuses.
Bruce after 5-0 defeat v Man City
“I don’t want to make excuses but we can’t be without six or seven of our better players.”
Bruce after 2-1 defeat v Watford
“I’m not one to make excuses but to lose games the way we did there, with big decisions, is difficult to accept.”
Bruce after 3-1 defeat vs Tottenham
“We’re struggling defensively with the players we are missing. But I don’t want to make that an excuse.”
Well Steve they all sound like excuses to me! Had we had those six or seven players available against City it may have not been 5-0 but given our approach to the Cup game I still think we’d have lost. The two penalties against Watford were penalties. He’s trying to disguise a truly dreadful second half.
To be fair he’s probably right about the Spurs game, yet it felt like he hung Krafth out to dry once again. After all, playing a full-back at centre-back against Harry Kane is asking for bother.
There’s an expression I often hear. “A bad manager blames his tools.” I’ll leave it at that.
Then there are his after-match/pre-match quotes to contend with
“The biggest thing about Newcastle is the huge expectation, and there comes a time when you have to think, ‘We are where we are’”
“I don’t think the table lies.
“I’m delighted we are only a couple of points behind a really good team like Southampton, and a really good team like Everton who have spent hundreds of millions over the last few years.
“When I look below us, and the enormity of some of the teams that are down there, then we’ve done okay. We are where we are.
“We’ve always got to improve, and we’ll try to improve the team again in the summer.
“That’s my job, but there has to be a reality check somewhere down the line.”
Is he really saying there are bigger teams than us below us? Who exactly is he referring to? He thinks we have to improve. You’re not kidding. It’s his job to improve us during the summer. I sincerely hope not.
If his remit was to move us forward and to continue to do that then he’s failed and we all know what happens to people that fail. The table indeed doesn’t lie. It shows our level of competency, ability, and ambition. Ask yourself how many of the current squad you really want to keep.
I’m also delighted that we’re just behind Southampton. A team that when Ashley came in were below us and then fell into administration and a team that’s just drawn at Anfield and recovered from an early season 9 – 0 home defeat. A team with a lot more limited resources than we’re supposed to have.
As for comparing us to Everton that’s also ludicrous. They have spent vast amounts of money and are really disappointed at their return and the way they’ve played but they’re still above us. Burnley and Sheffield United are proving that it’s actually very doable to move way above the mighty Toffees with a good bit of management.
Look, I think Bruce is a decent bloke and clearly loves football. But if the takeover doesn’t happen and he stays in charge (which I’m sure he would) then I can only see one outcome and that’s terrifying to think of. We don’t deserve to think that we’d be favourite for relegation again and the best we could hope for is survival.
We need to have this takeover confirmed and clear house and then perhaps we can move forward. That’s the reality check we all need I believe and certainly one he could do with thinking about.