Steve Bruce is a a tough old pro who would have expected a start to the season as disappointing as ours to raise concerns. “I think we’ve won five out of the last 26 games,” someone wrote. “How many clubs would put up with a record like that, never mind PL clubs?” We’ve given you the case against sticking with Bruce; here’s the balancing argument. Jeremy Robson hardly offers ringing endorsement, but feels it is far too early to start baying for blood …
The first real murmurings of discontent about Steve Bruce’s management have started to rumble.
Arguably we should have gone into this season expecting to take at least four points from the first two fixtures, three points against Birmingham and at worst a point at the Hawthorns.
But these two results need to be examined from a different perspective. We would have won the opener had it not been for Clatter ‘em all’s stupid behaviour/overzealous refereeing (depending on where you stand).
And we would have had a point against the Baggies had it not been for the fact that they’ve come back into the PL with a much stronger side than they could boast in any of their last four forays into the top flight.
Criticism has rained down on Bruce for his transfer dealings. Cana’s departure was unexpected, and Jones was sold to Stoke without a replacement being lined up.
However, the loss of Jones is reminiscent of Danny Collins’s transfer some 12 months earlier. Good money was offered for Collins and also for Jones. It’s quite likely that the incoming fees in each case would not have been offered again any time soon. Jones had a reasonable goals record, but had frustrated many fans as well as his manager for just a little too long.
That said, the transfer window is still open for a little while longer and it’s nothing short of imperative that Bruce brings in someone with a proven track record of scoring regularly in this division.
Campbell, Welbeck, and Waghorn do not have such a record so placing that expectation on any of these young shoulders is premature and foolish.
I remain far from convinced about the merits of developing youngsters from other clubs in the same division (as is the case with Welbeck), as any benefits will be short lived. You can’t build your house with your neighbour’s bricks.
But Bruce has the opportunity and presumably the cash to bring in the sort of players that will plug the gaps in midfield and up front (if not at left back). Failure to do this will add fuel to the fire of those who feel that the job is beyond him.
Defeat against Man City or even worse against Colchester in the League Cup will crank up the volume for those who want him out.
Yet two games into the season is no time to be thinking about dispensing with the manager.
I didn’t regard the performance against the Baggies as being as bad as a lot of our fans think. That’s maybe down to low expectation and increasing middle age, but Bramble was one of our best players on display (Bruce said that he’d turn out good), Onuoha looks a good solid and versatile defender, and the undoubted ability of Cristian Riveros will be a huge asset as the season progresses and he adjusts to the English game.
There are certainly question marks over the “Egyptian Beckham” who looked more like the “Egyptian Tommy Miller” at the Hawthorns, demonstrating an ability to remain on the field but completely disappear from view. It’s early days for this lad too.
Angeleri, the other close season signing has yet to appear, and the likes of Gordon, Reid, Turner, the immense John Mensah and Clatter ‘em all will be available for selection sooner or later. There’s more than half a team there!
Steve Bruce is no fool. He knows that he has to improve this side, and if he fails to do that in the remaining days of the transfer window then I might be joining the ranks of discontented too.
But not just yet, eh?