Last Wednesday was a joyous day, because Steve Bruce finally left Newcastle United.
But what was a happy occasion quickly turned sour thanks to the narrative from both Bruce and national media outlets.
‘Newcastle supporters hounded Bruce out. We were abusive. We didn’t give him a chance. We wanted him to fail from day one.’
The news was still amazing, but it did put a dampener on the day.
Because this narrative isn’t anywhere near the truth. And the people spouting it are the ones who don’t actually watch the team week in, week out. They don’t take the time to listen to or understand supporters’ frustrations. They don’t even acknowledge the damning stats that prove Bruce is not a good manager, but was especially poor at NUFC.
The local press, and journalists who cover NUFC day in, day out understand why we’re happy and even relieved. But for the rest of them, here’s exactly what you and Steve Bruce are getting wrong about us.
Newcastle United supporters wanted Bruce to fail
This is a classic case of twisting people’s words. The majority of us were unhappy with Bruce’s appointment, and we won’t deny that. Not only did we let a quantifiably world-class manager leave without trying to keep him, but we also replaced him with a manager who has the worst win rate of any experienced manager in the Premier League.
Not a single NUFC supporter wanted Bruce to fail. But, contrary to popular opinion, we actually have realistic expectations. We knew that a manager with a 33.1% win rate over 900+ games wasn’t going to do us any good. We knew that the main reason he’d been brought in wasn’t his skillset or his experience, but the fact that he’d be grateful for the job.
A lot of people say our expectations are too high, but none of these people have ever really interacted with NUFC supporters. The likes of Carragher, who’s actively engaged with us, are a breath of fresh air because they know this isn’t true. But for all supporters of other teams are giving us stick for wanting Bruce out, how many of them have aspirations of these types of win rates?
None, I’d bet.
Bruce deserved a chance under the new owners
Bruce did the same as Rafa. Bruce can only do so much under Ashley and with this squad. This is what we’ve had shoved down our throats from the media and other supporters for well over a year.
Steve Bruce, who already has a pathetic win rate in his ONE THOUSAND games as manager, has achieved his worst ever managerial win rate at Newcastle United. It’s closer to 28%. That’s a pathetic win rate. And over the course of a season, if he kept that up, we’d finish with 32 points.
Pretty impressive, considering he already had the lowest win rate of anyone out there with a modicum of experience.
Let’s look at the squad. Yes, we lost Rondon and Perez. But Bruce has had Saint Maximin when Rafa didn’t. Since the beginning of last season, he’s had Callum Wilson, a more prolific striker than Rondon. He has Almiron, who was an underrated powerhouse in the Almiron-Rondon-Perez triangle.
He’s had Joe Willock for nearly a year now. He has Ryan Fraser – a proven Premier League winger who bagged 15 assists and eight goals in one season for Bournemouth just a few years ago.
He was given significantly more money than Rafa to spend, and there is no denying that we have better players than we did under Rafa. Infuriatingly, we’ve also seen him play them in attacking formations, and it always does well. But most of the time, he made the creative players like Almiron, Saint Maximin and Wilson camp out in their own half for almost entire games. He took our defence from one of the highest-performing in the league to the worst. The exact same defenders that Rafa had drilled to a T. I’ve never seen a set of players regress like it.
Newcastle supporters hounded Bruce out
Of the 78 competitive matches that Steve Bruce managed while at Newcastle United, supporters were present at 36. That’s fewer than half of his competitive matches in charge of the club. And prior to COVID cancelling football and preventing us going to the match, there was never a single anti-Bruce chant.
Yes, there have been some since we’ve returned. But the idea that we’ve hounded him out since day one is ludicrous. We haven’t had the opportunity for the majority of his tenure. And then, when we used Twitter and Facebook as an outlet for our frustrations, we were labelled keyboard warriors.
It’s almost like Bruce doesn’t like any sort of criticism, isn’t it?
In his exit interview, he raised a valid point about actual abuse. And there’s no excuse for personal abuse. But when he’s spent a solid year complaining about supporters being frustrated, you can take that with a big heaping pinch of salt. Because what he’s done is lumped in valid, evidence-based criticism with personal abuse. He’s got an enormous victim mentality.
Let’s not forget the fact that he’s spent more than a year talking down the fanbase, too. You can’t cry about being criticised by the people you’re also hurling abuse at. Histrionics. Keyboard warriors. They just expect the Champions League and I can’t deliver that.
This is an enduring misconception that gets us so much grief from the media and other supporters. Bruce has actively contributed to the negative perceptions of us as supporters, but he’d prefer to ignore that and play the victim himself. We’ve received a lot of abuse since his sacking because of this narrative.
Let’s also not forget that the worst thing we did was sing a few anti-Bruce songs. He had a cabbage launched at his head at Aston Villa, and coins thrown at him at Sunderland. In comparison, we’ve given him a far easier time. But the way the national press has gone on, you’d think we’d turned up at his house with pitchforks and torches.
He’s a nice man with a family
I’ll again start this section by clarifying that I don’t condone personal abuse. But has this line ever been used before when a manager has been sacked? A manager who has walked away eight million pounds better off?
Will this line be trotted out when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer inevitably gets the boot soon? Will Man U supporters, who I’ve seen dish out a lot of criticism and abuse towards Ole today (Sunday), get the levels of grief we did?
Of course not.
I don’t know Bruce personally, but I’ve not seen a great deal of evidence to suggest he should be treated nicer than anyone else. We know he’s been a disgraceful landlord. He complains about supporters all the time. He throws his own players under the bus. He snaps journalists’ heads off when they ask reasonable questions.
This line of attack would make a lot more sense if it was applied broadly when managers get the sack. And if there was anything to suggest Bruce was nicer than the average fella.
He’s a Newcastle United supporter who deserves a chance
One of the reasons I love Twitter is because we can call out lies instantly. This line was trotted out immediately after he got the sack, and a Bruce quote from his time at Sunderland saying he never wanted to manage Newcastle came to light.
The fact that he managed Sunderland only bothers me because it’s proof that he’s not a top quality manager. I don’t really care beyond that. But you can’t say you never wanted to manage your boyhood club (that’s cool, not everybody does) and then cry about the fact that you’re in your dream job at said boyhood club when you receive some fair, fact-based criticism.
I’m a massive Newcastle United supporter. Does that alone merit me getting the job? Of course not. It’s not a birthright to manage your boyhood club.
Goodbye, Steve Bruce. You never connected with the supporter base and never tried to. We won’t miss you.