On the 13th of February 2016, Steve McClaren stood in front of Sky Sports cameras with a great big grin on his face after Newcastle had been humiliated at Stamford Bridge by a score of 5-1.
McClaren peddled out excuses of injuries and about “giving the ball away cheaply” but, at the time, Newcastle had 12 games left to save our season as we sat in 18th place with 24 points to our name.
As we now know, McClaren would go on to lose the next two matches against Stoke and Bournemouth before being replaced by Rafael Benitez who was unable to turn our form around in time.
Fast forward five years and two days and we have Steve Bruce stood in front of Sky Sports cameras with a great big grin on his face after Newcastle had put in a limp performance against Chelsea to lose 2-0 earlier this week.
Bruce peddled out excuses of injuries and about Chelsea having “top class players” and we now have 14 games left to save our season as we sit in 17th place with 25 points to our name.
There are of course some differences from this season to the one under McClaren but given Bruce’s track record and passive attitude to the danger we’re in, it’s hard not to see strong similarities in McClaren’s season to this one.
Newcastle absolutely are in a relegation battle currently and while we may be in a better position than our last relegation year, the passive and overly-relaxed nature in which Bruce is approaching our position is scary.
Though Fulham fans would probably snatch at our position and fixture list if given the chance, I’m sure that they would much rather being hearing the message from Scott Parker over the drivel from Steve Bruce.
Despite the progress Newcastle have made in our attacking intent recently, all of that becomes null and void when your manager spends the majority of his pre-match conference talking up the other team and basically readying the reason for loss.
Scott Parker, on the other hand, talks up his team and reiterates his belief in them. Parker speaks of his belief that Fulham are “very competitive in this league” and that they have chance to win “every game”. Compare his pre-match comments above with that of Bruce’s.
He said “this team have real belief” after they beat Sheffield United last night to close the gap to just THREE points, yet Bruce will no doubt talk up Man Utd and tell us all how hard tonight’s game will be when BT Sport ask him for a pre-match interview in a few hours time.
If current statistics and tables weren’t available and you only had words to go on, I know who I would believe in the most… and it wouldn’t be Bruce.