This was it. This was their last chance to make the change.
Alas, Mike Ashley and his merry band of grifters have backed Steve Bruce, due to some fantastical claims of “loyalty”.
The run of form is unacceptable. It is relegation form. 2 wins from 18 in the league; 2 wins in 20 if you count the League Cup losses. A harrowing 23 point pace.
Quite literally, any other manager would have been sacked by now. Mike Ashley himself did it, to Steve McClaren, who had 2 wins in 12. That seems harsh compared to the kid gloves with which the club are treating Steve Bruce.
This will end in one thing — relegation.
How did this happen?
Going back to the very start of this hellacious situation, Steve Bruce was never qualified for this job. Nothing on his C/V would prove him to be capable of leading a club with the expectations and prestige of Newcastle United.
A decade ago, in 2011, Steve Bruce had wins in only 2 of 13 (sounds familiar) and was sacked by Sunderland. He left the club in 16th, and they finished 13th.
He then managed Hull City to a 16th place finish in 2013-14, and once again, regressed, taking Hull City down to the Championship.
In that debacle of a season, his side boasted a run of 1 win in 16 in the first half of the season, and finished their campaign with 2 wins in 12. Hull City picked up 1 point from a possible 15 to end the season, including a loss to also-relegated Burnley. (The Clarets won seven games that season, two of them against Bruce’s Hull.) The Tigers missed survival by three points. After winning the Promotion Playoffs the following season, he was not retained.
His next stop saw him finish 13th with Aston Villa — in the Championship. This was followed by another failed promotion bid in 2017-18, and he was finally sacked after collecting one win from nine matches (are you noticing a theme here?) Aston Villa were promptly promoted that very season.
2 wins in 13. 1 win in 16. 2 wins in 12. 1 win in 9. That is the last ten years of Steve Bruce.
Experience is only as good as learning from your mistakes. Yet time and time again, we hear the same old lines from Bruce, rambling on about the accumulation of points or rolling up ‘we sleeves and getting the job done. There’s never a progression, a change, an adjustment. Just a reliance on “I’ve been doing this a long time” and hoping the ball bounces his way.
It is abundantly clear Bruce never deserved this job. He was a name that was familiar to maddeningly lazy and wholly under-qualified Lee Charnley. That’s it. He was “safe”. All too literally, though, he is nothing but.
Why is it still happening?
So if he was never qualified to take this club to the next level, let alone keep them in the top flight, why is he allowed to continue to lead them towards the impending doom of relegation?
Steve Bruce has consistently shown himself to not understand the tactics required to keep Newcastle United from the drop. He continues to stick Joelinton out wide on the right, who is now at nearly 60 league games with a whopping three goals. If he’s not going to score, what’s the plan? There is no striker in their starting XI week in, week out.
We’ve already gone into this in deep detail, but the form of the team, as well as the regression of nearly every player, whether inherited from the previous regime, or brought in by Bruce, is staggering.
Players come to Newcastle, full of excitement and energy, and quickly lose their form. Joe Willock burst onto the scene, scoring a goal in his first appearance, and has been a shell of himself since. Federico Fernandez is one of the more capable center halves Newcastle have had over the past decade, and he can’t even get in the side. Even Callum Wilson’s goal scoring pace had slowed the longer he’s been at St. James’ Park (6 in his first 7, 4 in his last 14).
He also shows no connection with either the players or the supporters. He constantly worries more about what nameless, faceless Twitter users say about him rather than developing his young, talented players.
Bruce has erased the progress made under the previous manager and has put the club in danger of a devastating relegation.
Has the fate been sealed?
This would be the third relegation in the past 12 years under Ashley. That would mean 30% of the Premier League seasons Newcastle has been a part of since 2009 have ended in relegation.
It’s completely unacceptable. The neglect shown to Newcastle United - the club, the city, the supporters, and the players - is simply a disgrace. It’s one thing if your modus operandi is not to spend hundreds of millions of pounds in each transfer window, but it’s another thing entirely to let a club nosedive into oblivion.
And that’s just what is happening here. There are no Moussa Sissoko and Gini Wijnaldum’s to sell for huge profits and re-invest, should the club go down. There are no ticket revenues from 2019-21 to help bring in a top Championship side. And there certainly is no Rafael Benitez walking through the door to completely change the culture and drag this hollowed out club back to the Premiership.
I genuinely worry about the future of this great club. The owner has checked out and he doesn’t care, much less pretend, to listen to the supporters. The club is a runaway train, headed right for the black hole of mid-table Championship/League One irrelevance.
No one will ever pay Mike Ashley’s valuation for a club that’s severely behind the rest of the country as far as Academy structure and development, training ground quality, and, quite simply, football structure. He’s doomed to be the owner of a club that once was great but due to his own inaction, is now just an idea. Or maybe worse, a memory.