Steve Bruce has told his players to ‘do the basics’ ahead of our trip to the Emirates tonight – saying we should “forget tactics” for a second, ‘take part in the game’ and focus on passing the ball better.
Just over a week has passed since our cup exit to Arsenal on the same ground. With a tragic defeat to Sheffield United sandwiched in between, Bruce is under pressure more than ever to start picking up results.
The gaffer was speaking ahead of tonight’s game, where he also brazenly admitted that he would be jumping on social media to call us “absolutely *****” following Tuesday’s embarrassing loss had he not been manager.
Here is what he’s had to say, starting with his pre-match message to the players:
“No matter what formation I picked and what personnel I picked we didn’t do the basics well enough.”
“Forget about tactics or analysts, you need that too, but you have to do the basics as well.”
“Turn up, have a bit of pride in your performance, pass the ball to each other, take part in the game.
It would help if Bruce had a bit of pride in his team selection – he went with a 5-4-1 away to a side who hadn’t won in SIX months last time out!
That said, he does accept that last week’s dismal defeat was his fault as much as anyone elses:
“I have openly admitted it, the other night was an absolute horror show, and at the end of the day I’m still a supporter.
“And if I was watching that then maybe I’d be going on to social media and saying we were absolutely ***** – and I get it.
“We have to accept it. I pick the team and I am responsible for it.
“It was my fault, I picked the wrong side, picked the wrong formation possibly, picked the wrong personnel and I am solely to blame. That’s why I sit in the chair.”
“What can we do about it? Fortunately I have seen a response from them on my watch in the last 18 months.
“I can give the ones (when there was a response which followed) that spring to mind, Brentford, Norwich away last season, Leicester away last season and I can reel them off and ask the question: Why?
“Let’s be fair to the players, and in their defence a little bit, against Arsenal in the FA Cup we did as well as we can do.
“We weren’t quite good enough but could have won the tie.
“Liverpool at home we did well too. But why did we throw in that one at Sheff United?”
Premier League football is football in its elite form. A manager should have a focus on tactics as well as being able to man-manage their individual players accordingly.
Christ, even Sam Allardyce shows signs of tactical nous in the way in which he sets up his sides to play. Despite this, I do have a funny feeling that Bruce will pull a rabbit out of the hat and pick up a shock victory on the road tonight.
Wilson may just tuck away one of the huge chances that Andy Carroll blundered a week ago and with our backs to the wall, we may just grind out a surprise win against a pretty average Arsenal side.