The BBC’s Alistair Magowan has offered a truly embarrassing opinion on Steve Bruce and has asked the question “Has Steve Bruce stopped the rot at Newcastle and does he deserve a fresh chance?”
Magowan tries to offer a litany of excuses for why Bruce deserves to stay, using a lack of fans, Covid and injuries as reasons for poor results. It’s a preposterous argument of excusing tactics, training and the well documented number of days off.
I’m going to focus on those two phrases that have been chosen for the title: “stopped the rot” and “fresh chance” because these are the two things that really raise an eyebrow.
“Stopped the rot” has been a phrase that we’ve seen at Newcastle before under Rafael Benitez in the 2017/18 and the 2018/19 season and, I must say, I don’t think it actually had too much meaning back then either as there seemed to be a fundamental misunderstanding of the context around the matches/season.
The basic meaning of this phrase is to put an end to a bad run but that can only mean so much. A detailed understanding of the matches needs to be established before you can freely claim that the bad run is at end because there’s far too many variables to consider.
Take for example, the start of our 2018/19 season. That was a horrific start where we didn’t win in the ten matches. However, we played five of those matches against the likes of Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United while arguably putting in quite a good show of ourselves in a number of those matches (The Manchester United match brought us that funny voiced fan swearing at all Newcastle fans).
The other five matches brought draws against Cardiff (awful match but a win if not for Kenedy’s penalty), Crystal Palace and Southampton and losses to Leicester and Brighton. Absolutely disappointing results but within the context of the season and greater fixtures, they were results that we able to take on the chin and use.
The fact that this “rot” was at the beginning of the season is important also because Benitez then proved that he could improve the team and garner results.
Even the “rot” in the 2017/18 winter period wasn’t too bad because we had already put down the groundwork previously by losing just four of our first ten games. Good work had already been done and it allowed us the time to recover well from the bad winter.
The “rot” that we have experienced with Bruce, this season, has been all season. We have only had one instance of back-to-back wins and the longest unbeaten run is three draws.
Also, importantly, the main rot has lasted much longer than before and have resulted in devastating outcomes against out-of-form teams.
Though our last six games have only resulted in one loss, the seven points gathered from those matches are not good enough given our previous results and considering the teams we were playing. Based on previous seasons, the “rot” can only be considered “stopped” when we put together three game unbeaten streaks where wins are frequent.
In regards to the “fresh chance”, I won’t dedicate too much time to because the idea is senseless.
Steve Bruce has been manager of Newcastle for nearly two full seasons now and, despite significant backing in the transfer market, has made the team perform worse and worse.
Bruce has had all the chances that needs and he has failed.
Newcastle fans deserve a fresh chance, not Bruce.