Craig Bellamy has a… rocky history with Newcastle, but his views on the situation with Steve Bruce as manager and the way Newcastle play football currently seem to be right on the money.
As you can see below, he believes we have the quality to survive – but wonders whether we’ve become so used to sitting back and not having the ball that we’ve forgotten how to attack and don’t know how to ‘turn it around’ when we should be on the front against poorer teams we are better than, suggesting the mentality has been ruined by Bruce’s unenjoyable tactics:
You can see him speaking on about it on talkSPORT here, feeling the players have stopped enjoying the football asked of them under Bruce:
The really interesting thing that Bellamy speaks about here is how he knows we have “enough players to survive” but that there is an importance in enjoying football and that the players for Newcastle “don’t seem to be enjoying it.”
For me, enjoying your football isn’t just a case of being on a constant high of wins and fantastic play but it’s about experiencing those ups and downs whilst knowing there’s a fairness and a process to getting that joy.
As a fan, I currently feel apathetic watching my club and that’s not a way you want to be. You want to experience rage but with the knowledge that you will at some point experience joy. Sport is supposed to work like that. You’re supposed to have ups and downs, not just a constant down.
There’s a famous video game called Dark Souls which plays on this notion perfectly. It’s super difficult and you’ll find yourself dying constantly but you always know that it was fair and that there will come a point when you get it right because you’re learning, growing and ultimately, you “git gud” (get good). There’s a reason that it’s widely considered one of the best designed video games and that’s because it takes its time to make it something that you can enjoy.
Now obviously, football isn’t as prescriptive as a video game and many factors are at play to contribute towards winning but the basic concept remains: You study, you consider and you enjoy yourself.
Rafa Benitez is known as one of the most perennial studiers of football and it was clear that in his last 6 months of time at Newcastle, we were starting to hit a stride where we clearly enjoyed our football.
Steve Bruce is known as a blagger with an awful football record and I can’t remember the last time you could claim that players (or fans) were actually truly enjoying their football.
What Bellamy says his right, the players are downtrodden and are broken. Bruce’s bad tactics and lack of management, has beaten down professional footballers who used to run after the ball in the playground with big grins on their faces. Where has that Wilson cockiness gone? Where is Almiron’s childish beam?
Bruce has beaten in bad habits and terrible ideals into these players. He’s made taking a break from the job that they’re supposed to love a continuous thing.
Steve Bruce is making people fall out of love with football and he needs to go before it does more lasting damage.