Titus Bramble: canny signing, or a mark of lowered ambition?

No one likes to be honoured by a clip like this. A year from now, we all hope to be looking back on the season’s glories from Titus Bramble, if join us he does, and not a new bunch of calamities. Scroll down for a much-respected Wigan fan’s warm commendation. And Titus: the clip is meant in fun …

What we wanted was John Mensah back. What it looks as if we are going to get is Titus Bramble, for a reported £750,000-£1m from Wigan (have we simply given up on Mensah? Tragic if so).

My immediate reaction to the speculation was to feel the need to suppress a sigh. Nothing against Bramble, but signing him does not seem, at first glance, the action of a team aiming for the Premier League top 10 in the short term.

As The Daily Telegraph put it, Bramble became “a figure of fun among Sunderland fans during his accident-prone five years with Newcastle”, though the paper added that he had been itching to work under Bruce again.

In common with every signing, Salut! Sunderland will nevertheless give the lad a fair crack of the whip. And the reactions are not all negative. Among those seen by me:

Don’t let his Newcastle episode cloud your judgement. He has been a terrific defender for Wigan, we will miss him.
– Bernard Ramsdale, landlord of Ye Olde Tree and Crown, top Wigan fan site

He’s no longer the figure of fun that he once was. He has always been able to play. Being able to defend was never an issue for him. His concentration and attention (or lack of it) was what let him down. He does seem to have dealt with that and is an improved player as a result. An Ipswich fan once said to me (before his Maggie howlers) that Bramble found the game too easy to play. I often used to think that this is part of the reason why his mind often seemed to be some place else. – Jeremy Robson, a familiar figure at this site

But Jeremy went on to voice his disquiet at the way the transfer dealings and pre-season build-up are going. “I’m trying desperately to come to terms with the clear message that we are not going to sign Big John, and Bramble for me is some way short of being considered as an adequate replacement,” he writes at the Blackcats list. ” … we look seriously weaker than we did at the end of last season for me in key areas.”

Over to you, Steve Bruce and, in no small measure, Niall Quinn and Ellis Short.

The jury has gone out far too early in my view, with but is inclined just now to convict you of under-ambition. I will certainly need to be convinced that Bramble is the way forward, but believe you must devote the remaining time between now and Birmingham City at home on Aug 14 to ensuring we have:

* adequate, Premier-standard cover for Craig Gordon

* a settled and strong back four

* another striker

It is on Steven Bruce’s response to these needs that his promise of a few “quality signings’ will be judged.

And if it is true that our hopes of bringing Mensah back foundered on his reluctance to accept a pay-as-you-play deal, then I hardly blame him for feeling he can do better elsewhere. Yet again, a sometimes-injured Mensah is a decidedly more appealing option than certain players, including one or two bought by Bruce, would be if never troubling the treatment room.

Colin Randall

21 thoughts on “Titus Bramble: canny signing, or a mark of lowered ambition?”

  1. Some of us always make a mistake like this but his mistake are always recorded since he was playing football and quietly known on his field. Bramble was a very good player though. I have seen his different game and he was awesome for very good assist and goals. This video only shows his very big mistakes that anyone could ever had in the field. But I still idolized him for moving on after being unfortunate on some of his games.

  2. Wigan fan here!!!! Like most of you on here when we signed Bramble from Newcastle i was at work with a load of Bolton fans who were only to kind to bring up all of Brambles mistakes on YouTube. I, like you thought Titus Bramble was a big lumbering mess of a defender, don’t get me wrong he does have his moments where i have had my head in my hands because of him, but otherwise he is a very very good player. If he puts a tackle in then it is usually player and ball in the stands, good header of the ball and is a very good no nonsense defender. BEST OF LUCK TITUS!!!!

  3. Now is not the time to judge Bruce. Booing last night in Portugal and chucking out abuse was a disgrace. Once the transfer window has closed then it will be time to judge on players wearing the shirt on saturday, and performances.

    I wouldn’t give Mensah any more than pay-per play and if Lens wants more than this then it’s not SAFCs fault or Mensah’s fault, period.

    Dissing Bruce & the club on speculation and hearsay leaves is not better than the mags.

    Be stong and positive, and keep your glass half full. We have in the process of establishing ourself as no long er the yo yo club which is better than we’ve all had for decades.

    Current injuries being picked on pre-season is a worry though.


  4. The first time I saw Bramble was when he ran half the length of the pitch and smashed the ball into the back of the net past a helpless Sorensen at Ipswich. I thought then he looked like a very good player. I’m afraid that I can’t say I have ever thought that again about him. I just hope Bernard is right (and having seen a lot more of TB than me I’m happy to listen to his opinions. Am hoping he’s been signed as cover because I’d like to think two of Turner, Mensah and Da Silva will be the first choice pairing.

  5. It seems to me that Bruce may well play 3 central defenders next season – Turner, Bramble and Da Silva with Kigallon and Ferdinand as “spares”. The first 3 give him a bit of everything; solidity in Turner, a bit of pace in Bramble and dogged determination in Da Silva. His full backs will be wing backs, hence Al-Muhammadi and er, someone else – maybe Richardson.
    I don’t think that we have lowered our sights, more like we have had a reality check. Westermann opted for Hamburg and like most German players is content in the Bundesliga. Campbell is 35, ideal for a club stepping up from the lower leagues a la Steve Bould and Big John, although a magnificent player, cannot be relied on to play every week.
    The manager knows Bramble, he has a good fitness record and he will not weaken the team.
    We have to unerstand that, despite what we think, Sunderland AFC is not seen as a major player; no European competition since 1974, no domestic trophy since 1973 and a reputation as a yo yo club. Players, particularly established ones from abroad, look at that and say “Thanks for asking, but no thanks”.
    Let’s give him a chance and see how he does. After all, he got out of Newcastle as quickly as he could.

  6. As one of our lads always said about Titus, he’s great as long as he doesn’t have time to think.

    I can only think of a handful of times when he’s been bettered aerially and he can deliver passes of a quality that if they were from Gerrard we’d still be knocking one out.

    Good luck Titus, hope it works out for you and you have lots of thinking time in at least two games next season.

  7. Yes, you do tend to think of the worst happening! Thankfully it does not happen as many times as people think it does. You are correct, there is always the THOUGHT that something bad is going to happen.

    Although his mistakes are not any more or less than the average Premier League defender, his mistakes ALWAYS cost his team dearly.

  8. When he gets on the ball at the back he is the type of player who makes you think ‘oh no’ because there is always the thought he could make one almighty cock-up. On the other hand he could produce one of the best 40 yard crossfield passes you could ever see. I wish him nothing but good luck.
    I say to Sunderland fans, enjoy his good points but be aware of the bad.

  9. In fairness I simply meant that if the ball comes to him and somebody like Tevez is running after it, he is more likely to bang the ball away as opposed to slipping up or letting Tevez get the ball, which is what most people think he would do!

    His natural style of play is to more often than not pass to his nearest team mate. I don’t know the Sunderland style of play, but when Bruce was in charge of Wigan, the style was, if in doubt, hoof it out!

    As for you signing a left back, don’t rule out Figueroa yet. But bear in mind he is one of Wigan’s most over rated players, living on the reputation of Wilson Palacios and Luis Antonio Valencia, he is nowhere near as good as either of them!

  10. No offence; but I don’t want a defender whose going to boot the ball long – and based off Steve Bruce’s comments to Danny Collins when he arrived, neither does he.

    My mind is yet to be made up by Bramble. I think he’s a Premiership calibre player, but doesn’t reflect the sort of standard where I feel we want to be. And I’d put him behind Turner, Da Silva and Ferdinand in terms of ability at centre back.

    The main question is, are we sticking with Al-Muhammadi and Angeleri as right backs (both unproven) and are we ever actually going to bother to sign a left back?

    I’m not underwhelmed at the purchase of Bramble. I’m just underwhelmed at how unnecessary it seems in terms of his ability in conjunction with the position he plays. We should be trying to improve on Turner/Da Silva/Ferdinand – not bringing in a player to sit ahead of them.

    And God know’s what we’re going to do with Kilgallon.

  11. Must admit I can only remember him as a abysmal at Newcastle. I really hope it’s not a accident waiting to happen. We desperately need some help in defence.

  12. Titus has been immense at Wigan Athletic. He was signed on a freebie from Newcastle United as a totally shattered young player who had all the confidence drained out of him by the supposed ‘best supporters in the world’

    At Wigan he started with a clean slate and the fans took him under their wings. He repaid us by giving three years of his career tand he made only a few mistakes in that time. The trouble with Titus was his past reputation and EVERY single gaffe he made for Latics was highlighted, just so the press, who loved to take the mickey out of Wigan, especially with Titus on board, tried to justify their past persecution of him.

    But hang on a minute, hand on heart, how many of them did you as Sunderland supporters see? Three? Four at tops would be my guess. Four mistakes in three years, show me a defender with a better record than that!

    Injury prone? He missed the last two games of last season to have an operation on an injury picked up as he gave all he had to help keep Latics up last season and he only had that op when he knew we were safe from the drop.

    He played 96 Premier League games for us and 11 cup games in three years hardly the record of an injury prone player is it?

    I’m absolutely gutted that he has left the DW Stadium and I wish him nothing but the best for the remainder of his career. Titus was good for us and we were good for him.

    Give him your full support, and I know it’s difficult seeing as you have probably taken the mickey out of him for many, many years. But ask yourselves this question, ‘Did you abuse him for his many, many, mistakes or that fact that he wore a Newcastle shirt?’

    He struggled to cope with Roberto Martinez’s ‘beautiful football’ style last season, and in truth, it did not suit him. Martinez likes the ball tippy tapped out of defence, Titus likes to just bang the ball into row Z, like any decent centre half should do. This is what he is very good at.

    Now he’s wearing red and white stripes, not black and white ones. Look after him, he is also a fabulous human being.

  13. Norway – I was not comparing the two I was simply stating that Hurley scored an own goal on his debut yet became a fans favourite (and with good reason) – he made a mistake yet people gave him a chance – Bramble, whilst nowehere near the player Hurley ever was, I don’t think will be given the same opinions from our fans.

    My observations were made to say “Give him a chance” not that he’s as good as Hurley (I’m too young to have every seen Charlie Hurley play but my Dad has regularly retorted about his ability – so much so that it’s as if I’ve seen him!!) and by all accounts he was the best that has every played in the Red & White stripes of Sunderland. Whilst Bramble is not the sort of player we were “Wishing” for, he is, on recent form, better than most for that price

    My “Comparison” is of the chances given to players by our fans – Hurley got a chance but had he got the same sort of retorts that Bramble is getting, would he still have been the greatest Centre Half to play for Sunderland or would he have been booed by all around him because we weren’t willing to give him a chance?? A player is only as good as their recent form – and Bramble’s is good for Wigan – was Poor for Newcastle and Bruce brought the good performances out of him

  14. Marcus, are my eyes deceiving me, mentioning Bramble in the same paragraph as Charlie Hurley, I was lucky enough to see Hurley play a few times when I was a youngster and find any comparison at all totally ludicrous, he truly was the greatest centre half I have ever seen, and i include the likes of Moore, Labone, Watson, Terry and the rest.

  15. Hasn’t Bruce more or less ruled out another midfielder, Sean?

    I agree about the defence – not getting Mensah, and not getting Hutton, and Bruce seeming uncertain on another World Cup star, da Silva, make us look vulnerable.
    But yes, we do need another striker. Bent cannot be expected to rattle them in as prolifically as last season, though we all hope he will, and Jones doesn’t get enough.

  16. Hi Salut (again) – I think the biggest problem the “negative” fans have is that they cannot see past his Newcastle days. I have looked on a lot of fan sites and trawled the Wigsan boards and the general concensus is that they think a fee of much more than £1m should be recouped for what they see as one of their best centre halves over the past couple of seasons. He wasn’t on my “wish list” as a fan but at the price being quoted you will not find anyone better.

    I ask the fans to look past his Newcastle days and look at his more recent history (and how much Steve Bruce improved him at Wigan after newcastle) – surely recent past is more important – as someone else mentioned – A certain Mr Hurley scored an own goal on his Debut??

  17. I’d say he did well under Bruce with a defender guiding him BUT he is not the higher quality to take us into the top ten and Europe. Neither is Sol Campbell.

    Mensah yes but injury prown, we should be competing and offering higher wages for players in this position – Right back, defence, left back (don’t conceed goals and you don’t lose).

    Another forward is required??? Id say we need creativity in midfield, whats the point in having forwards when they get no service – goals from midfield would be nice and not just from Bent

  18. The main problem isnt even whether he’s gotten rid of his mistake ridden past, or even the fact he used to play for the mags! Its that even on top of his game he isnt good enough, we’ve gone from Mensah, to Westerman, to Campbell, to ….Titus Bramble….somethings gone wrong in Bruce’s head. I dont think £1m is a bad price, but he’s not good enough, or better than anything we’ve already got!
    We have just gotten rid of one plank in Murphy and are trying to offload our other error prone defenders in Nos and Ferdinand…so why sign Bramble…just when we were clearing out some of the rubbish!

  19. Granted he had a good spell at Wigan. I say good, I mean OK.

    However they say “class is permanent, form is temporary”

    Surely therefore the opposite is true?

  20. Well he was one of Wigans best players the last 2 seasons and also played 35 games last season in league so at least he is not injury prone. 1 million isnt too bad considering they were wanting 5 million not so long ago. I think he will be a good asset and his only fault is normally that one mistake a game.

  21. Wigan must be laughing. They got him on a free transfer and are selling him on for as much as £1 million. And that’s with a question mark about his fitness. I’m trying to forget that he was once voted the worst player in the Premiership.

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