When Steve Bruce was picked by the clubs hierarchy to be the one to replace Rafa Benitez, it was met with negativity from the Newcastle faithful. Lets be fair, in terms of CV’s it was justified. The club asked for the new Head Coach to be given time to bed in, and to judge him on results.
After seeing the type of payers the club brought in during the window, and performances in pre-season, where a more fluid and attacking Newcastle side looked to be on the cards, there was a slight air of optimism surrounding the start of the season.
Soon the start of a new Premier League season came around, with the Toon in front of the Sky cameras for their first game against Arsenal. A game which was subject to a boycott by some, the figures vary as to how many decided to miss the game, ranging from 5000 empty seats to 10,000, personally I think it was somewhere in between. The performance for most of the opening game looked decent, and Newcastle were unlucky not to come away with a result, if not for one lapse in defensive play. A tactically ill-disciplined last 30 minutes in a rain soaked St James’ helped towards an opening day defeat, but it was Arsenal, and there were some positives. So it was time to move on to the next game, one that most if not all of us thought we could win.
The noises from inside the Newcastle camp seemed positive, the players seemed happier, they were enjoying their training sessions. It was looking like we would build on the Arsenal performance, and a result against newly promoted Norwich seemed possible. That was until match day rolled around!
The team had lost Allan Saint-Maximin to a hamstring injury through the week, and Sean Longstaff was dropped in favour of Ki Sung-Yueng, to ‘protect’ the Geordie midfielder from further injury, and yet again 4 defenders were named on the bench, with the only attacking option coming in the shape of Japanese striker Yoshinori Muto.
The following 90 minutes, seemed like an exercise in how not to manage a football game! The home side, who had walked the Championship the year before, outclassed Newcastle from the first minute. Granted I wasn’t sat in the away end at Carrow Road, but a mix of Radio Newcastle, Soccer Saturday and Twitter, told me all I needed to know, Newcastle as it stands are not good enough!
All this talk of Steve Bruce being ‘One of our own’, seems lost on the players and the management team. Surely if anyone could get the players up for wearing the shirt and putting in a performance, it should be a Geordie. However, there seemed to be a distinct lack of ability, tactical nous and a severe case of ‘heads dropping’ once Teemu Pukki had put the Canaries 1-0 up. That seemed to be a a recurring theme throughout the afternoon, with Joelinton seeming to lose a bit once he spurned an early chance, later going off with a hip injury, and debutant Emil Krafth seemingly getting worse as the game went on. It probably isn’t fair just to pick out those two, with poor performances across the board, part from Isaac Hayden, who so far this season looks too good for this team.
A Head Coach who has been lauded for his man-,management skills, seemed to forget all that today, as the dugout looked as lost as the players on the park. This performance wasn’t good enough, and to be fair, Bruce did say as much in his post match press conference, but it was surrounded by some excuses that, on the face of it, probably prove that he is out of his depth at a club the size of Newcastle, and the level of expectation to at least try!
Fan’s are already calling for Bruce to be sacked after todays subpar performance, with it looking unlikely to get better. There is an argument for the club to look at bringing a manager in able to get, what on paper is a decent side, to perform at the highest level. As is the case with the Premier league, the games are not going to get easier, and an upturn in results looks less and less likely as the weeks go on.
The next match away to Tottenham is not one we are expected to win, but another poor performance the week after at home to Watford, and the Caraboa Cup tie against Leicester sandwiched in-between the two, could put the final nail in the coffin of Steve Bruce’s Newcastle career, as far as the fans are concerned at least.
The gaffer himself asked us to judge him on results and performances, and if today is anything to go by, it is not looking good for Bruce. Comparisons to messers Pardew and McClaren have already been made, which I think is unfair, we seemed a lot worse than that today. The club have to show some ‘b****cks’ and admit they made a mistake, if performances and results do not improve in the next couple of weeks, and a dream ‘homecoming’ for Bruce could be short lived!