After Sunday’s awful performance and extremely fortunate result at Spurs, Steve Bruce has shared his thoughts on disappointing back-to-back displays in the Premier League.
It’s early days this season and perhaps too early to say what he’ll achieve with his new improved side, however his comments today are absolutely baffling and pretty infuriating in parts.
Before looking into them in a little more details, here’s what he had to say:
“With Newcastle the one thing I have learnt is you get questioned if you don’t perform well enough or you get beat.”
“Yes, we have to improve on the way we play – there’s no question about that. But I think with any result, when the performance is not quite right, you get questioned.
“That’s the nature of the job of being Newcastle manager.”
“I totally understand we didn’t play well enough on Sunday or the week before, but I don’t think it’s got anything to do with style of play.
“Nobody questioned us about or style of play after West Ham. I do want to change but I’ve had to be really patient with it…”
To begin with, that first line is just bizarre and plain wrong. This happens at literally every single football club, Steve, so let’s not make out like we demand too much!
We could win at Newport tomorrow and beat Burnley on Saturday night and it’d be deemed a strong start to the season – and rightly so on a results basis – but Bruce’s words today are extremely worrying, incredible careless and bordering on arrogant, with him suggesting awful displays against Brighton and Spurs had nothing to do with ‘style of play’ and that criticism is coming his way because…”that’s the nature of the job of being Newcastle manager”.
Newsflash Steve, it’s got EVERYTHING to do with tactics and set up when the players look lost and our team looks useless at both ends two games running – not the mention the fact concerns over our performances are VERY much understandable when we’ve had 3 shots on target in 3 games.
Other than Wilson’s penalty on Sunday, we’ve not had a shot on target in the Premier League since Hendrick made it 0-2 at West Ham a few weeks ago – so if our struggle since then has got “nothing to do with style of play” then what exactly is it down to?
It certainly can’t be the lack of quality in our squad this time – especially now he’s been handed a trio of Premier League proven players in three key areas and signed £100m of talent since he got the job.
This line makes no sense either – “Nobody questioned us about or style of play after West Ham. I do want to change but I’ve had to be really patient with it…“
Nobody questioned our style of play at West Ham because we had a go and played to our strengths now we have a proven striker, attacking left-back and exciting options out wide. He claims he has to be ‘patient’ with new systems, but in the same breath says our bad displays have nothing to do with style of play. He sounds about as lost as we’ve looked on the pitch over the past two league games.
He asks for patience, but what exactly is he waiting for this time?
He complained last season that this side only knew one way of playing after years of Benitez’s pragmatic approach, but that can’t be said 15 months on now we’ve got a much more capable squad that is completely able to cause teams bother.
Now he’s been allowed to spend and has assembled a squad that, on paper, should be closer to the top 10 than the relegation zone, he can’t keep playing the victim or throwing his players under the bus. This is not longer a ‘Championship squad’ or a side that just don’t know how to play front foot football. Under manager capable of delivering the latter, it most definitely could!
His confusing and contradictory comments sum up the lack of identity we have as a team, with good performances tending to be the exception and good results often requiring a big slice of luck.
He constantly plays down the importance of tactics in his interviews and this shows in our performances, with him seeming more of a ‘roll your sleeves up and get on with it’. Quick to make excuses or blame hindsight (which he rarely learns from), but too slow or stubborn to accept his own shortcomings.
He had the players on his side last season and remains a good man manager, but there’s only so long luck can save his bacon if he continues to ignore the warning signs and play down the underlying concerns so many of us have been aware of – even when we were 13th in the league last season and miles ahead of the drop zone.
A big week awaits for Bruce in league and cup – especially after his refusal to fully accept some of the reasonable concerns put his way today.