When asked about Sean Longstaff during his pre-match Press Conference yesterday, Bruce mentioned that Sean was struggling a little with his knee. He had spoken before the match at Norwich of protecting the 22-year-old. It was still quite surprising when reports emerged that Longstaff would not be starting.
This is what Steve Bruce said yesterday about Sean:
“Certainly last week I just detected that he was a little bit ginger with his knee, which is understandable.
“He’s been out for the best part of five months, and the one thing I needed to do was just try to protect him a little bit, and have a conversation with him to say, ‘look, it’s normal that sometimes you might have to miss a day or two’, just to make sure he was ready.
“But certainly, when he came on against Norwich last week, he had an immediate influence on the team and we were much better when he was in there.
“My job is to make sure that he’s right, 100 per cent right. He’s only a young lad making his way, and of course, he’s had a dramatic rise very, very quickly.
“Him and his brother have impressed me immensely, but it’s my job to protect him a little bit as well, and that’s all I did last week.”
When Longstaff came on for the ineffective Ki, he instantly made a difference. However, Bruce had the right intentions in resting the young midfielder at Norwich. Bruce has to protect Sean, and he has over twenty years of experience with players to know how to handle these types of situations.
We expect that Sean will be back in the starting eleven on Sunday. In fact, we think Bruce will revert to the same eleven he played at Arsenal.
Sean Longstaff also spoke to the press yesterday and has given an interview in Sky Sports.
He has spoken about how tough this summer has been and also about the need to move forward. This is some of what Sean has told Sky Sports.
“I was speaking to Rafa throughout the summer, and ultimately I think everyone wanted him to stay. But that’s football. Things change, and ultimately he didn’t want to stay.
“It’s in the past now, and I think everybody, as harsh as it sounds, has to sort of forget about him, as tough as that can be.
“We’ve spent a lot of the start of the season talking about Rafa, and he’s not here. Ultimately he doesn’t have an impact on the team or football club at this time.
“If the team start picking up results, everything will look more positive, and people will forget about the previous manager, as long as we’re successful on the pitch.”
“We had an honest chat, we’ve got an honest group, with a lot of leaders and it came from us really.
“We know as a group we need to be better, and hopefully it’s behind us now, and everyone is looking to be as positive as we can.
“We’re not panicking, and everyone is working as hard as they can to make each other better.”
The obvious quote that a lot of people will seize on is when Sean stresses the need to forget about Rafa. This may not go down too well with some.
However, he is correct in his assessment of the current situation. We wouldn’t want the players to dwell on the fact that Rafa Benitez has left the club. They need to concentrate on their performances and getting results.
Hopefully, they can put in an improved performance on Sunday at Spurs. That will help give the fans at least a little bit of positivity.
Sean knows that this team needs the fans behind them to help spur them on:
“We know it’s not been an ideal start, but I think the whole city needs to get behind the team.
“We know how important they are to the club, and especially in home games, they can make a difference. They help us so much.”