In light of the Leeds result, I decided to have a look at recent interview from Alex Bruce regarding his dad’s situation at Newcastle.
Alex Bruce is the player the equivalent of his dad’s management, that is to say, he’s a below average journeyman who hasn’t achieved anything of note.
You could forgive, I suppose, if Alex were to have an interview giving insight into his father’s mindset or something personal of that nature but, when he decides to give his two pennies on Newcastle specifically and regurgitate the same drivel his dad does, your patience and understanding gets tested…
Let’s have a look at the first part of his latest defence:
“My dad’s problem is he is trying to fill the gaps and if you do that it takes away in other areas and you can lose the edge going forward.”
There’s nothing wrong specifically with this statement. In fact, it’s nothing new and is something that Benitez commented on with his “short blanket” analogy. However, it purposely ignores the main issue that Newcastle face currently, which is that no-one barring the goalkeeper is really excelling.
In Benitez’s tenure, though there were issues up in attacking initially, there was a solidity in our set up and defence. Our team now is as porous as a gaping hole. In the Leeds game, it was interesting to see that Leeds has most joy attacking when we weren’t bothering to press and pressure. When we did, their potency was much reduced. Alex then goes on to say…
“But open up like they did against Arsenal and you get done on the counter and that is something my dad is struggling with at the moment.”
Not having a single shot on target in the first half is hardly opening up play, is it? 34% possession, 4 shots and 2 corners doesn’t scream to me that there was a real attacking intent there.
It was similarly abysmal at Villa and we got hit on the break AGAIN against Leeds. This ‘struggle’ is because Bruce is consistently failing to address our consistent
If Alex means opening up by playing players in strange positions and unbalancing the team with his picks then yes, that is something his dad is constantly struggling with.
Even the arguably improved Leeds game displayed poor player positional choices. Maybe the second goal wouldn’t have occurred if a proper right-back (two of which sat on the bench) played in that position instead of a winger and then a centre-midfielder.
“There will be a difference when Allan Saint-Maximin returns to full fitness.
“He does offer that attacking threat up front and gets Newcastle up the pitch as well as adding excitement.”
Well, as much as I love Saint-Maximin, that wasn’t the case before he couldn’t play… Bruce was going to drop him.
I’m sure Saint-Maximin will bring more to the team and there were definite glimpses of that in the Leeds match but it was down to proper wingers and Almiron playing further forward that first allowed us to start marauding up the pitch.
If we want Saint-Maximin, or any of players, to be successful then they need to be deployed in proper positions.
“My dad can only deal with what he has got.”
He’s got better than what Benitez had and he’s doing worse.
He has a Premier League team and he’s making us play like League One strugglers. This team was woeful and pointless against a second-string Championship team.
“He has a good working relationship with everyone at the club and I know for a fact he is trying his best.”
He doesn’t have a good working relationship with the fans and, to paraphrase Sir Bobby Robson, we’re the most important part.
“His best” is clearly not good enough and seemingly involves just pointing the finger at anyone other than himself. Did he try his best and all the other clubs he failed at?
“There have been some bad performances but some good ones as well. He’s just got to grind it out.”
I would love for Alex to elaborate on what the good performances were. This is a common theme with the Bruce defence and I would love for someone to be pushed to name these magical impressive matches because I enjoyed the Morecambe game, the second half of the Everton match and now the second half of the Leeds match… that’s it.
What does “grind it out” in this context even mean? Be bad but win? He’s not winning so it’s not working.
“It’s the same for all the teams down in the bottom six or eight where Newcastle are and where everyone expected them to be at the start of the season.”
It’s difficult for teams down in the bottom six or eight granted, but it’s not the same, especially when other teams seem have much more of fighting spirit.
Also, you end up in the bottom six or eight when you perform a certain way because of certain factors and one of our major factors is because Steve Bruce is a bad manager. Everyone is on the same amount of points when the season starts.
By the way Alex, your dad spoke about aiming for the top ten at the start of the season and it was widely agreed by our fanbase that we had a squad good enough for the top ten so I’m not sure where this “everyone expected” malarky started? We all probably knew in our guts that top ten wouldn’t happen because of one overriding reason though, so if the reasoning is that we all expected Newcastle to be down towards the bottom because of the inept managing of Steve Bruce, then yeah, I agree.
“There is no getting away from the fact they have had some poor performances recently, but it’s also been a really difficult set of fixtures against Leicester, Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal twice, so all you can do is roll your sleeves up and dig in.”
Happily ignores Leeds away, Fulham, Brentford and Sheffield United…
What does rolling your sleeves up actually achieve by the way? What do these pointless idioms actually mean?
“That’s all the players can do, that’s all my dad can do and that’s all the staff can do to try to get out of the situation.”
Your dad has been constantly using these stupid, absurd idioms since he got here and there’s been no change because they don’t actually mean or do anything! Given that your dad has been in similar situations, numerous times at different clubs, I don’t think he knows how to “get out of the situation.”
“The style of play is something that my dad toys with all the time.”
At no point has “style of play” changed under Steve Bruce except for defensively bad and extremely negative and defensively bad. Now and then, you’re allowed a small teasing glimpse of how the players can play but it’s never a proper look.
Given that he is a highly paid professional, maybe Bruce shouldn’t “toy” with things either… Maybe he should sit down and professionally figure out how his team will work, through data and statistics before moving onto implementing it on the training ground and then pitch? I’ll give him a starter: Play players in positions they understand.
“He would love to be expansive, but with no disrespect to the players it is a difficult one.
“For example, if Jamaal Lascelles is out the defence is not blessed with natural pace and if you move up the pitch and push the full-backs or wing-backs on in leaves space and the quality in the Premier League will exploit that down the sides.”
There’s absolute disrespect to the players there and it throws them under the bus for why we’re not good instead of laying on blame at Bruce’s feet.
I wasn’t aware that attacking play completely relied on Jamaal Lascelles having natural pace and that being the reason that we can’t play in a more attacking sense! It’s nice to know that the pace of Yedlin, Lewis, Almiron, Matty Longstaff, Murphy, Fraser, St. Max, Gayle and Wilson is completely irrelevant. That means we can sell them for a massive profit and invest where we really need: Pacey Centre Backs.
I know now why Steve Bruce was so hopeful in getting the Sonic the Hedgehog of centre-backs in Rob Holding this Summer. It makes so much sense now!
Also, it seems to me that Alex believes that all attacks only happen from defence? From my understanding, footballers are allowed to pass the ball forward to players in midfield and attack. No? My mistake.
I mentioned recently on Simon Jordan’s rant that it felt like he was simply relaying Bruce’s words said in private and I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if Alex is doing the same thing here.