Although our two clubs are currently heading in totally different directions, one thing both Aston Villa and Newcastle fans have in common is first hand experience of what an awful manager Steve Bruce really is.
Ahead of our clash at St James’ Park tomorrow night, I reached out to two Villa fans to get their views on Bruce – and their comments felt familiar to put it mildly!
Here’s what they had to say, starting with Holte End season ticket holder Gary Archer:
“I know there’s been a so-called ‘rivalry’ built up between Villa and Newcastle since a group of our supporters decided to show zero class when you were relegated at our place under Alan Shearer, but I honestly feel for you having Steve Bruce at the helm.
“As a loyal supporter who watched his press conferences, turgid style of football and infuriating press conferences, you have my sympathy…because the bloke is infuriating in every sense.
“If it’s not him making excuses or talking down his players to lower expectation, he’s making decent players look bad or showing how outdated his ‘tactics’ are. I’d say he has no plan B, but it was never obvious what his plan A was at Villa!
“With us he’d constantly change formation and personnel, giving us zero identity. He’d also come across as rude and ignorant whenever criticised, once saying it was the “mad few” who wanted him sacked at Villa, then arrogantly declaring “I supposedly doesn’t know what I’m doing” when he beat Rotherham at home a week later.
“That seems to be the case with you lads. A pal of mine who is a Geordie living in the Midlands vents about him most weeks and everything he says feels like deja vu!
“I saw your draw at West Brom last weekend and it was classic Bruce. Played for a draw and seemed so content with it after the game. It reminded me of the time he took us to an out of form Bristol City and got a point that just wasn’t enough if we were serious about promotion. Yet, in his post-match interview he had the nerve to say “any point away from home is a great one in this division.”
“I read something saying he was giving the players too much time off recently and can very much believe that. After all, this is a man who disappear to his villa in Portugal over the international break…not work through it on the training ground with players left behind.
“One thing that also gets me is all this talk of him being a ‘great man manager’. I don’t know about anyone else, but a bloke who blames everyone but himself and regularly throws his players under the bus is not someone I’d want to play for. He did that most weeks with us and he eventually lost the dressing room.
“I’m sure plenty players feel he’s a nice guy when he first comes in as he’s probably laid back, jokey and decent to be around, but that’ll soon wear thin when he’s pointing the finger after every game – something that I see was the main cause of that Matt Ritchie bust up!.
“The excuses were also tedious and a weekly occurrence. He’d start by saying “listen, I’m not going to make excuses”, but somewhere in that interview a whole host of them would follow!
“I guarantee if you lose tomorrow he’ll bemoan your injury issues and hope you “roll your sleeves up and get on with it”…ignoring the fact you’d have every chance of beating us now we’re without Grealish and on a bad run of form.
“He’s lazy, unambitious and arrogant and it’s sad to see how you’ve become a sinking ship with him in charge.”
It’s actually scary how accurate just about all of this is.
We also spoke to Villa fan Justin Hawthorne (@jutin_) to gain another view on the NUFC boss.
Here’s what he had to say when discussing where Bruce left the club following his dismissal in October 2018 following one win in nine:
“We were 14th [when he left].
“After the play-off defeat the wheels came off. Former owner Tony Xia basically ran out of money and we nearly went bust, so he had a lot on his plate that season but still had a very good squad for the Championship.
“But, by then the results and style of play were going badly wrong so it became his thing to say keeping us up was his main job!
“He also famously said “who could you get that could do any better” before he was fired.
“Dean Smith was then appointed and got us promoted that very season with basically the same squad bar a couple of additions.”
It all sounds VERY familiar, doesn’t it…
A big thanks to both Gary and Justin for taking the time to chat with us. All the best to Villa for the remainder of the season – after tomorrow night of course!