football

Steve Bruce's negative eye-bleeding tactics risk making him Newcastle's Trump


Whenever I hear Steve Bruce lately he comes across as almost Presidential.

As in, he turns into a bristling Donald Trump by dismissing all criticism as fake news and brings to mind ­Abraham Lincoln’s quote about leaders being unable to fool all of the people all of the time.

Last month, as Newcastle fans despaired about the lack of shots on goal Bruce said he was “baffled at the raging debate” before pointing out his team had been “stylish against Morecambe and West Ham” and “had 27 attempts against Newport.”

Three weeks later, when Kieron Dyer said he was bored watching his old club, Bruce offered another un­inspiring defence: “We’d all love goals, cup challenges, top seven or eight but we are not in that position.”

And after Saturday’s meek home surrender to Chelsea he dismissed increasing fan criticism with the phrase “there will always be ­grumbles.” Indeed there will.



Steve Bruce has refused to take accountability for his side's dire displays
Steve Bruce has refused to take accountability for his side’s dire displays

And right now the grumbling among the natives is at the stage volcanologists refer to as pre-eruption.

Social media is teeming with screen-shots showing Bruce’s side bottom of the Premier League ­standings for shots on goal, shots on target, touches in the opposition box and passes into the final third.

Damning statistics backed up by a clip from Saturday’s game showing how, in the 84th minute, a Newcastle throw-in near Chelsea’s box went back 90 yards to their own keeper when they were 2-0 down.

Such negativity is torturing large swathes of the fan-base.



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Bruce can’t be blamed for the failure of the Dubai ­takeover nor the shocking lack of investment under Mike Ashley, which makes their current league position of 15th no big surprise.

But Newcastle fans have every right to demand an upgrade on the unambitious, possession-sacrificing, eye-bleeding football they’re forced to watch.

It seems Bruce is happy to hide behind the media ­support of ex-players who feel Geordies are unrealistic in demanding a return to the Keegan era of European nights and breathtaking football.

But after years of broken dreams that’s not what they are demanding at all.

Fans of clubs with strong identities and storied pasts have a notion how their team should play football.



Newcastle's attackers are rarely given the freedom to go at the opposition
Newcastle’s attackers are rarely given the freedom to go at the opposition

Whether that’s a style they witnessed as kids or learned from their fathers doesn’t matter.

That’s what they want their manager to aim for. And if they get the opposite over a long ­period they will be unhappy and resentful.

Newcastle fans don’t want to see their team set up every game with a blanket defence, hoping for a lucky break. Most games they want to see it attack.

This one attacks less than a ­neutered hamster, despite having ­decent offensive players in Callum Wilson, Miguel Almiron, Allan Saint-Maximin and Ryan Fraser.

There’s pace, guile and goals there, but you rarely see it.

Where will Newcastle finish in the table this season? Have your say below.



Bruce is dismissing criticism aimed at his team which is a rocky path to tread
Bruce is dismissing criticism aimed at his team which is a rocky path to tread

Bruce seems to be obsessing on his fans’ criticism, citing it as the negative energy that holds his team back, when it’s more to do with his tactics.

As Roy Hodgson at Liverpool, Andre Villas-Boas at Spurs and Sam Allardyce everywhere he went after Bolton discovered, once you call your own fans delusional for not seeing what you want them to see, you’re on dodgy ground.

Bruce should do himself a favour by ceasing to be in denial about valid fan ­criticism, accept the damning facts about his overly-cautious tactics and vow to play more on the front foot.

Or risk being remembered as the Trump of Toon Towers.





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