I’m not one to really write a match report, I normally leave that up to other writers. Sometimes it falls to the fact that my emotions will be of a type, that undoubtably id look back at what I have written and be disappointed in the outcome. I normally wait and see if I have calmed down….today is not the case.
The 90 minutes we as fans had to sit through against Sheffield United, is possibly the worst I can remember in my 30 plus years of supporting Newcastle. We can all see where the problem is, some corners of the media can see it (mainly those with an affiliation to the club), you get a feeling some of the players can see it, apart from 2 men…Mike Ashley and Steve Bruce.
Press conference after press conference we are subjected to the same old tired lines, “Its a work in progress”, “we will have to be at our best!”. Yet none of that is shown when we as a team actually take to the pitch. The performance against a side that has scored 9 goals all season, and before last night only had 2 points at the midway point of the season, was pathetic, embarrassing and passionless. It had nothing to do with Ryan Fraser’s sending off, it had nothing to do with the penalty given against us, it was there to see from the first second of the match. Newcastle just didn’t fancy it.
This isn’t just a one off though. This has been coming since Steve Bruce walked through the door 18 months ago. There has been no progress, only regression. The only real progress we have seen, has strangely come because of Mike Ashley ( I know, I feel dirty saying it!), but the squad available to Bruce is a lot better than previous managers have had, only really possibly beaten by the quality Steve McClaren had at his disposal.
The set-up last night was not one of, ‘we are going to go for this’, it was defensive, passive and defeatist! Apart from Saint-Maximin whose still suffering the effects of Covid, and Callum Wilson and Ryan Fraser who started, our entire attacking options were on the bench. The message it sent the fans was “we’ve already lost this one!”, the message it must have sent Chris Wilder and Sheffield United must have given them a confidence they haven’t seen for a while. The three points were theirs even before a ball had been kicked.
The worst thing is, we all saw it coming before the match. Their record, our performances this season, it was written in stone that Sheffield United would pick up their first 3 points of the season. During the past year there have been many words entered into a Newcastle fans vocabulary, geopolitics, red flags. There have been some that have been deleted, desire, optimism and expectation.
I use to go down to my Granda’s house every Saturday when he was still with us. Every Saturday without fail he would be in his arm chair, headphones on, listening to the match. If Newcastle were beaten, he would always recite the same line, “If it wasn’t for their keeper, Newcastle would have won that!” In the current form of the team, and how we are set-up, I honestly think if the opposition didn’t bring a keeper, we wouldn’t notice. Week on week the performances are getting worse, and there doesn’t seem to be an idea from those in charge of the club at how to rectify it!
We are told that Mike Ashley will not do what every Newcastle fan wants, and get rid of Bruce. The reasoning varies with this, we aren’t in the bottom 3, and he is concentrating of the arbitration case he has against the Premier League. Yes we are not in the bottom 3, and as it stands sit 8 points clear of the drop, but with the fixtures coming up, and how the team is performing, it won’t be long before that is no longer true.
Yet again, the prospect of a Takeover is hampering the club improving. Year after year during the transfer windows we hear stories about a possible takeover, and yes this time is different, but we know not to expect too much in terms of transfers. This time it’s not to expect a manager who has made the team worse, to be sacked. What Ashley needs to realise, the money it will cost to rid us of Bruce, in my estimations it can’t be more than £3 million, will be pennies to the money it will cost him when we go down. Let’s not beat about the bush here, with Bruce in charge, we will go down this season. If come the end of May and we are no longer a Premier league side, Ashley can wave goodbye to the £300+ million that PIF,PCP and the Reubens are willing to part with to buy the club, add that into the millions he would have paid Nick De Marco QC for action that upon relegation would have been pointless.
There are players in that squad that have regressed under Bruce. Players we were calling out week on week to be included in the side, now we are disappointed if they are starting. When you have players like Miguel Almiron, who yes has his faults, but has never not given his all for the team, sitting on the bench while others, who you could argue don’t deserve a game are picked before him.
Football isn’t meant to be like this. We are not meant to feel angry all the time. We are not meant to think what is the point in watching, we won’t win! We are not meant to think half way through the season, 8 points clear of the drop, ‘I wonder who the other two relegated teams will be!’ Because at the minute there are not 3 teams worse than us. There are not performances from our side where you think, yeah we might pick up a few points from that game, or that game. There is nothing but despair, and acceptance that this isn’t going to get better, until Steve Bruce is sacked. It shows how bad it is when I have seen fellow fans saying on twitter (probably tongue in cheek) ‘Bring back Pardew!”, or that ‘It wasn’t this bad under McClaren or Carver!’.
These so called pundits can say what they want, even though 90% of the time it makes no sense. Like Jamie Redknapp, “Steve Bruce is doing a good job, but I expect Sheffield United to win!”. It is not their club that has become the joke of the league. It is not their club that can not be bothered to try and fight for anything more than 17th place, which at the minute finishing 20th gives us too much credit! It is not their club is slowly beating the fight out of their fans! Things have to change at Newcastle, and they have to change now! The best way to change it….
Steve Bruce Out!!