Based on Steve Bruce’s comments ahead of tonight’s Carabao Cup quarter final, you’d think we were the Championship side travelling to take on a Premier League club.
“Let’s have a crack and see where we get to” he said, saying we all know “how difficult it will be”, but we must “accept the challenge” and “hope” we can play well enough to beat a “good” Brentford side.
Don’t get me wrong, this is a very handy Bees side – they’re undefeated in 13 and favourites for a reason – but Bruce’s pre-match comments suggest we’re EFL minnows who’ve drawn Man City away!
Here is what the Toon boss said:
“It’s been far too long but we’ve given ourselves a chance.
“We know how difficult it’ll be but let’s have a crack, let’s enjoy it and see where we get to. We’ve got to accept the challenge and make sure we get to a semi-final – how good would that be?”
“They’re a good team. I was disappointed with our last two games and we didn’t play well enough.
“We didn’t get anywhere near the levels required but this is a different challenge.
“Let’s hope we can play well enough to get through.”
No manager is going to be disrespectful and slate a lower league club ahead of a game, but they certainly wouldn’t play down their own teams chances either.
Coining defeatist phrases such as ‘let’s have a crack’ make it seem as though we have a daunting task ahead of us. We are in the league above, for God’s sake. Sadly, though, Bruce has made a habit all season of curbing expectations.
The fact that we are underdogs while playing a Championship side is an indictment of Bruce’s style of play. The bookies obviously know that the game plan is going to be to sit back, invite Brentford onto us, and try to nick a goal on a rare counter-attack.
In reality, we should be full of confidence and looking to hurt a side with a poorer side on paper, taking the game to them and showing them who the Premier League side is.
I was confident of a result ahead of tomorrow night but these comments are hardly going to convey a positive message into the players.
Bruce’s best chance of turning the fan base around is to win a cup competition so any excuse to rest players for the Boxing Day trip to Man City will fall on deaf ears with me.
Let’s hope his pre-match team talk is a little more rousing than his pre-match presser!