Steve Bruce spoke to the media in the aftermath of Saturday afternoon’s capitulation against Brighton, and his comments are very concerning.
The manager appeared to dish out an array of excuses in an attempt to rationalise the defeat. To start, he claimed that it would have been “unfair not to start Carroll after last week”.
Yes, Carroll was much better in last week’s win and won almost everything in the air. But the game plan against Brighton was to play with pace on the counter. Almiron was overlooked even though he has started the season well and is tailor-made for counter-attacking football.
Why start with one of the league’s most immobile forwards if that was the plan? Loyalty gets you no where at the top level, so talk of him playing Carroll because it would’ve been ‘unfair’ not to don’t sit too well with me when tactics and systems must take priority at this level.
As you can see below, he also blamed the early mistakes on the result and overall performance, but how does this explain ZERO shots on target? Early errors are one thing, but he’s responsible for the shift in approach from that point onwards from both a tactical and motivational point of view – yet no clear change was forthcoming.
He brought Almiron on at half-time, but the damage was done at that point – not via errors and poor defending alone, but also the approach he went with which was wrong from minute one.
His comments are worrying and reflective of why he is struggling in his quest for consistency at the club.
“We never gave ourselves a chance with the penalty. Before we started we have gave ourselves a mountain to climb.”
“You can’t go up and down, which in the 15/16 months I’ve been here has happened. We’ve gone from having a decent week to throwing in a hand grenade like that so we have to accept the criticism.”
“When you start like that in any game of football, let alone this level. It turns into an awful afternoon. We have to accept it and try to put right.”
We had 82 minutes to turn it around after going 0-2 down, yet Bruce’s comments suggest it was over at that point and we didn’t give ourselves a chance. OK, the players let their heads drop and we capitulated, but the system and amateurish tactics had us struggling from the off. Yes their early penalty came via a mistake, but it also came via a total mismatch in systems which Bruce needs to take some responsibility for.
We have heard comments of this ilk time and time again from Bruce. He talks about wanting to ‘put it right’, about learning from his mistakes and trying to ‘accept’ where he’s gone wrong…..but he never changes anything, or he at least takes an age to do so when he finally does.
He stubbornly adopts the same tactics, gets a couple of positive results and then again passes the blame when it inevitably goes wrong. It’s a vicious cycle.
Elsewhere, he also claimed, (with that ever-immaculate hindsight) that Allan Saint-Maximin was troubled today and probably should’ve been taken off a long time before he was.
“Allan never really recovered from the early incident. He had the ankle knock and in hindsight I maybe should have taken him off earlier but we’ll see how he is.”
Instead, he allowed the Frenchman to hobble around looking completely out of sorts. The winger was a ghost of his usual self. Bruce is evidently seeing these crippling issues yet doing nothing about them – only to admit his wrongdoings after the fact. It’s a bit baffling when it happens time and time again.
If he wants to succeed at the club and extend his tenure, it’s imperative that he transforms his approach. He can’t keep accepting where he’s gone wrong in hindsight only to make the same mistakes.