I’ve noticed a bit of a theme emerging whenever pundits or former managers speak out about Steve Bruce’s Newcastle United this season.
Whether it’s Pulis, Pardew, Merson, Sherwood, Sutton or Savage, they’ve all said in recent weeks that we either don’t have the players in our squad to be an ‘exciting’ side who play good football, or state us fans need to reign in our so called ‘unrealistic’ expectations, with Pulis stating over the weekend that staying up would be a “fantastic achievement” for Steve Bruce.
Personally, I find it baffling that the so-called ‘experts’ can look at this Newcastle United squad and say it just “doesn’t have the quality” to be any other good or easy one the eye.
Take Southampton and Aston Villa for example. I’d argue that their teams on paper aren’t much better than ours, yet look at the difference. Both play with intent, have clear identity, are ever-improving and a joy to watch.
The likes of Hasenhuttl has a plan and the ability to execute it. A set system, a vision of EXACTLY how he wants his team to play and the ability to improve the players at his disposal as a result.
Then I look at Dean Smith’s Villa and the way they fearlessly demolished Arsenal 0-3 on Sunday night. OK, they were poor last season and they have the hugely talented Jack Grealish, but the way they’re approaching games this season with a similar set of players (ability wise) to NUFC speaks volumes.
Yet, ask any pundit about the job Steve Bruce is doing at Newcastle United and they’ll shower him with praise as if he’s defying all the odds to keep us afloat.
They seem to forget this is no longer ‘Championship’ squad full of £5m signings – this is a side with a top goalkeeper, plenty good centre-backs, a £15m left-back Liverpool wanted, a ball-winning Hayden and ball-playing Shelvey with a front four full of pace, power and spark. A good manager would get this group looking very decent – not turning up at Southampton a beaten side or barely laying a glove on Wolves.
We’re limited in areas – I think our midfield lacks a driving force and consistency as Shelvey’s often a luxury, Sean Longstaff struggling for consistency and Hendrick so limited – but there’s real potential in this side.
Results are OK at times but they feel so unsustainable when we play badly 9/10 under Bruce, concede the most shots in the league and have less efforts on the opposition goal than all 19 other Premier League sides as things stand.
I’m sick of being told to accept this is all we’re capable of, with so many throwing the ability of our players under the bus (including our manager himself!) in a bid to defend Steve Bruce’s ability as a manager.
It’s also pretty tiring seeing Bruce take offence to very fair criticism/questions and the media constantly defending him when the squad at his disposal and money spent (for once!) has created a team capable of so much more.
I love Newcastle United, but it’s a sad state of affairs that I no longer wake up looking forward to watching us on a matchday.