A break, a bit of a light news week and the media are dredging up more stories about Steve Bruce, with Martin O'Neill supposedly waiting in the wings...
To be honest I do not really see what all the fuss is about. OK, we have not had a great start, and are close to the bargain basement of the Premier League, with 1 win in 7 games. Bruce has attracted some top-class players to the club, and nobody can say he is not committed to the cause. He has taken criticism on the chin, defended himself, and to be fair a 10th place finish last season was the club’s 3rd highest finish since 1955.
There is a glass half-full sentiment around Wearside much of the time and this has come to the fore regarding Bruce. Having grown up in the area I know there is a feeling that it is easier to criticize and knock down than to praise and build up.
Obviously, we as fans expect the summer’s signings to perform, and for the team to rise up the table, but it will not happen overnight. And one can perhaps criticize Bruce for some of the handling of Darren Bent and Asamoah Gyan, how did things go bad in those two cases? But was it really his fault? Their undoubted success at Sunderland led to their being approached by other teams and becoming unsettled.
On the plus side I am being won over by a Niklas Bendtner, and Bruce again did well to attract him to the club in the face of the striker’s deteriorating relationship with Arsene Wenger. The Danish striker has blossomed with the belief Bruce has shown him, and his form in Denmark’s last two internationals has also been excellent, with 3 goals. This is marked contrast to experience of Anton Ferdinand and his reported utterings following his departure for QPR at the end of the transfer window.
Obviously all managers feel pressure at times, and any manager who sees his club in the bottom 6 for too long, especially after significant investment, is under special scrutiny and will feel some anxiety about their position, especially in the insecure world of football management. Luke Edwards, North-East football’s blogger at the Daily Telegraph has summarised the situation really succinctly - see http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/sport/lukeedwards/100020416/steve-bruce-is-under-pressure-whether-you-like-it-or-not/ - the club needs a good run of results.
No matter how the facts and opinions are lined up, we do clearly need to start putting some wins together and although it is tough ask, a win at the Emirates would be a great start, but it will be tough without Bendtner, who is on loan from Arsenal and ineligible..
A final snigger – I receive Jimmy Carr’s feed on Facebook – and I had to laugh at this one: 6th Oct 1854. The Great Fire of Newcastle. A wasted, ruined city, its people desperate and miserable. And then, they had a fire.
©Lars J.S. Knutsen