Is Joelinton Right About Toon Fans’ Bruce abuse?

Posted on June 25th, 2020 | No Comments |

Steve Bruce.
Steve Bruce: Not a lot of respect from fans.
In a recent interview with Natalie Gedra for Brazilian ESPN, Newcastle United forward, Joelinton, spoke about several aspects of his time on Tyneside. One of those was his observations about the fans’ treatment of Steve Bruce since he became the Magpies’ manager in July 2019. On this he said:

“When he [Bruce] arrived, he came under a lot of pressure, part of the crowd didn’t want him because of his old work. A nice guy, a hard worker, but who demands, and is a friend, always with word of encouragement. The fans acted badly with him as soon as he arrived. He’s doing his best. For me, he’s a great coach.”

To say that Bruce’s welcome after the departure of Benitez was ‘muted’ would be an understatement, it was verging on hostile. Even now, after a 3-0 victory against a team (Sheffield United) who were 5th in the Premier League, and the second best behind Liverpool in terms of goals conceeded going into the game, a fan on this site reacted to the Magpies’ performance as follows:

“He’s so much into playing ten men behind the ball, that even if the side win every game, it doesn’t change the fact it’s garbage football that no real NUFC wants or needs.”

Many others have criticised Bruce’s pragmatic defensive style. However, Benitez’s style on Tyneside was much the same, though he didn’t get anything like the same criticism, and Bruce’s teams have undoubtedly been playing in a more ‘interesting’ way in the last few games since Bruce adjusted the formation, especially so in that Sheffield game, but as you can see above, the prejudice remains.

Rafa Benitez was highly respected on Tyneside because of his previous record but despite playing a highly defensive style which was difficult to watch at times, Benitez rarely received the same kind of comments as those above. Un the real world, Bruce’s record actually stands up well beside his illustrious predecessor. Benitez finished 10th and 13th in his full Premier League seasons at the club whereas Bruce is currently 13th with a good run of games to the end of the season and a place in the FA Cup Quarter finals, something Benitez didn’t manage at St James’ Park. On average, Benitez won 1.2 points from each Premier League game he managed for Newcastle, but Bruce has won 1.3 so far. Overall, it’s pretty much ‘honours even’ for the two coaches, at Newcastle anyway, if not elsewhere.

So what is the cause of this prejudice among some fans? Well as hinted at above, their respective records before Newcastle played a role. Steve Bruce never broke the seemingly unshakeable dominance of the Spanish ‘big two’ in La Liga with a team of plucky underdogs (twice), he never won the Champions League against the world’s best team in one of the most exciting games in football history neither. Let’s face it, Bruce’s history as a manager has been that of a rather humdrum journeyman.

Secondly, being a Geordie who was born in Corbridge would usually be seen as an advantage in building a rapport with the fans IF he wasn’t seen as a Geordie Kim Philby who turned ‘traitor’ when he managed Sunderland for 18 months back in 2009. Back then he was mockingly known among fans as ‘Agent Bruce,’ a Geordie agent who would keep Sunderland comfortably in the wake of the Magpies so long as he was coach. Also, his greatest days as a player were for another club which isn’t hugely popular on Tyneside, Manchester United, especially so since Alex Ferguson completely out psyched Kevin Keegan for the 1996 Premier League title with a team captained by (you guessed it) Steve Bruce!

Despite the negativity though, Bruce has carried out his job with great dignity under difficult circumstances. Despite his previous less than perfect coaching record, he has done roughly the same job, with roughly the same tools at his disposal as a predessor who has won 12 major trophies, including every European trophy as well as the FIFA Club World Cup. It also shouldn’t be forgotten neither that Steve Bruce was a truly great player, a defender with an amazing career record of 926 caps, 113 goals and 13 major trophies won for Norwich City and Manchester United. Like Rodney Dangerfield, he deserves more respect.

NUFCBlog Author: workyticket workyticket has written 1093 articles on this blog.

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