Steve Bruce has been manager of Newcastle United for 18 months now, and it’s fair to say not one Newcastle fan wanted him in the job from the get go. There were some, like myself, who were willing to give him a chance in his first season. Coming into the storm that was around the club at the time, it wasn’t going to be an easy job for anyone to follow Rafa Benitez, and the rapport he had with the fans.
But that was last season, and it is fair to judge people on a season to season basis. Whether you do a job between the months of August and May one season, doesn’t mean you are exempt from criticism the following August to May. While many pundits would have us believe this isn’t true. At the moment Newcastle sit on 19 points, yet the table doesn’t read 19 points – but we got decent results against Chelsea,Manchester United etc last season. Thats not how football works.
What we have seen this season has been a massive regression in the performance of the team, team selections that even the brightest of minds could not work out on paper how the team is to be set up, yet the manager insists this is a ‘work in progress’ and some of the ‘criticism has been unfair!’. It all becomes a very ‘woe is me’ response from Bruce when he is questioned about the teams performances this season.
In press conferences we have seen blame put on the fans, the “mighty’ Rafa Benitez, the players, Covid, the amount of games, and with the recent banning of the written press from asking questions in said press conferences, no doubt behind the walls they are being blamed as well.
There are contingents of pundits who seem hell bent on defending Bruce, and pushing the blame onto the fans, and in some cases Rafa as well. It even led to Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp coming out with the line “I don’t think another manager could change this!” We as fans are being told we expect too much, and Bruce is backing up those claims whenever he talks. He has even had his son come out and defend him, which I fully understand why Alex would, but lets read the room a little bit here.
There seems an air of the club protecting Bruce to a certain extent. They are looking to bring in current Bournemouth number 2 Graeme Jones, to try and come in to give an extra pair of eyes and new ideas. Yet this appointment is giving away mixed signals at the same time. When asked about it by Geoff Shreeves after the Villa game, you got the sense that this is not something Bruce had asked for, and wasn’t in favour of such an appointment. Yet in his Press Conference for the Leeds game, it is something he is looking forward too! It this another lamb to the slaughter set up by the club to protect Bruce? Bring in a new coach, it doesn’t work, no doubt it’ll be the players fault for not buying into new ideas!
With the club essentially banning the written press, it gives Bruce that protection from answering the hard questions. The questions that have seen him get defensive in the past, from a contingent of the press that have the audacity to question the job he is doing.
Bruce is running out of people to blame for the shambolic job he is doing this season. There are only so many times you can blame the fans for airing their grievances, fans that haven’t been allowed to watch a game in person since the end of last March. He cannot continue to blame previous manager Rafa Benitez, who left almost 2 years ago! If he continues to blame the players, he will lose the dressing room, even though it does seem it is already lost, and there seems to be no way back. It is a rinse and repeat exercise for Bruce, who will not blame the one person who is at fault for this regression….himself!
He cannot blame Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley, for the simple fact they have backed him in all the transfer windows he has had, bar this one. They have changed the clubs transfer policy to suit Bruce, and it still isn’t working. Under his watch we are sleepwalking to relegation. Jamie Carragher said it best in his commentary of the Villa game, when he said that Newcastle have become a ‘nothing club’ and the ‘football is boring.’
The only sign of progress we have seen under Bruce is the quality of players brought in, something that wasn’t afforded the previous manager. Everything else has gone backwards. Yet again in the eyes of the manager he is not to blame!
Should we lose against Leeds, and on current form you would put your house on it, what will Bruce blame then? Will he blame Covid again, yet Villa and Man City have had outbreaks and seem to handled it! Will he blame Bielsa for putting out a team that wants to play, and who will be set up to beat us? Or will he blame the fans because we are airing our disdain for how the club is being run on social media…the only real outlet we have left, with everything else being closed to us! It is safe to say he won’t blame himself.
In the summer the fanbase was united in thinking that we could be seeing an end to Mike Ashley’s tenure as Newcastle owner. Yet there were still some that weren’t 100% on board, for their own reasons which are to be respected, because of who wanted to buy the club! But it is safe to say 100% of Newcastle fans are behind the fact that Bruce should be relieved of his position as manager of our club!
He may be running out of people to blame, but us as fans, and the media, all firmly put the blame where it should be….With him!