Steve Bruce has all but thrown in the towel at trying to shape this team into an attacking force. He arrived with some bravado that he could get the team playing on the front foot. However, that has led to only 4 goals and no games with a higher percentage of possession.
Bruce has claimed that he must now revert to what the squad is familiar with. And that is the way they played the past few seasons under Rafa Benitez. That would be perfectly fine with us if Bruce could get similar results. We have our doubts that he can.
Through constant repetition on the training pitch, Benitez had the players well versed in every situation that would come their way. The first seven league games this season have given us little hope that Bruce can replicate that.
We’ve seen really only one game this season in which the team put in a full ninety-minute performance. That was against a Spurs side who now, six weeks later, look a terrible mess.
The Daily Mail have published the comments that have touched a bit of a nerve with some fans:
“The two or three times I’ve tried to change us, it didn’t really work. I quickly worked out at Norwich that we didn’t have the players with the capability to play the way I’d envisaged.
“In the Premier League, you’ve got to be big and physical and have the ability to run. Unfortunately, that is one thing here now, from the back to my midfield, we haven’t got.
“And, ultimately, until we’ve got that, we’re going to have to play in a certain way, and the identity will be to sit deep and play on the counter-attack because that is the only way we can play.
“That certain way has been drilled into them (by Benitez). We have to start with that again.”
These comments sound a little too much like Bruce is playing the victim. A victim of a mediocre squad who can’t unlearn what the previous manager instilled in them. The most regrettable part of his comments is that he questions the suitability of the players for the Premier League.
Bruce should be reminded that he was more than happy with this squad at the close of the summer window. He described the club’s transfer business as remarkable.
? Club transfer record broken
? Local hero back home
? Saint-Maximin announced
? Both full-back positions strengthened
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) August 8, 2019
We hope this is not going to be a running theme with Bruce going forward. There is a stench of unaccountability in his comments. It looks like this is the road he is going to travel though as he doubles down on his comments in the following promo:
— Patrick Davison (@skysports_PatD) October 4, 2019
In this promo, Bruce says the biggest problem is that the players are familiar with playing a certain way. Well, that is not an uncommon situation for any new manager. It’s up to the manager to be able to clearly get his ideas across to the squad.
We shudder to think what we will hear next if we get another dreadful performance on Sunday. Steve Bruce, himself, pleaded with the fans to judge him on results. He is trying to move the goalposts by making excuses about the squad being insufficient. He needs to get back to the mantra that results are all that matters. Because they are. He is not going to convince anyone of anything else.