Steve Bruce: soft Stoke goals, soft officials

The boss has sent me his usual post-match e-mail; he wasn’t impressed with the refereeing either – but he did realise that his own defence needed a rocket for the sloppiness that cost us all the points …

Dear Colin

It’s so disappointing to lose in that manner and it’s a big kick in the teeth considering how well we played.

Stoke put the ball into our box and we weren’t strong enough to deal with it. We also need the officials to show some strength as well.

The simple fact is we’ve lost to three set pieces into our box. All of the goals have come from a yard out and that’s bitterly disappointing.

We can say the goals were controversial but we should be brave enough to go and compete and head it, and the goalkeeper to come out and catch it.

That’s cost us and we haven’t done the basics. We played some good football at times but you have to come here and compete.

You have to put your head in where it hurts and take a bit of responsibility, which unfortunately we couldn’t do.

The whole afternoon was a huge frustration. For all our good play, we didn’t physically stand up to the Stoke and we got caught.

All the best,

Steve Bruce </s


Monsieur Salut

15 thoughts on “Steve Bruce: soft Stoke goals, soft officials”

  1. Mr Hedley said “Blind loyalty and I am not accusing you of that, is not a trait to be admired.”

    I couldn’t agree more. It’s a mistake to respect the beliefs of someone else because they are sincerely held, when they are simply wrong.

  2. I just read that Malcolm: it was either a brilliant account of Sessegnon’s formation of Sessegnon Senior’s plea to his son for a car and a house out of his doubtless generous earnings at the SoL.

  3. Spot on Malcolm but don’t you just love a little bit of controversy, it makes life interesting when all the different opinions come winging in from all directions.

    Boards, such as this, thrive on activity from the readers, not just the quality articles from the Salut official contributors.

  4. BBirflall Boy I agree with what you say, the ref gave our lad no protection, nor indeed did our defenders, even standing on the line Gordon was being fouled pre set pieces by one of their players constantly backing into him.

    That does not change the fact that he could have had a word with the referee, instead of trying to shout to attract his attention. He looked like a frightened rabbit and if the officials are not supporting you as a goalie you have to resolve the situation yourself. He has to command his area including bollocking his own players.

    There are a plethora of old goalies with less talent perhaps than Gordon who would not have crumbled the way he did. Bruce does not often openly criticise his players individually. This time he made as strong an adverse comment about a specific position as we are likely to see. I have spent 60 years supporting this team and those who have never seen Monty and Charlie Hurley play, get up in arms if anyone criticises them. In reality Hurley could have your heart in your mouth sometimes, he used to make some outrageous mistakes but almost always recovered the situation. Monty probably the greatest stopper on his line in the world, was not favoured for England because he could be as scary as hell to the Mackem faithful when he came for High balls. Gurney one of our great strikers on occasions had chants of that is not Gurney it’s his Granny

    There were quite a few critical ticks of one or two of the posts including mine but if we are not honest in our perception of what went on there will be no improvement. Blind loyalty and I am not accusing you of that, is not a trait to be admired.

    Bruce will deal with Gordon and Gordon has the ability to take the criticism on board and improve

  5. Newcastle received a penalty for a infrindment that was executed on Gordon at every throw in and corner but I can’t remember Sunderland getting any freekicks. The 1st goal was offside and maybe the 2nd but if he was on it was a foul. referreeing in the EPL is inconsistent and inept apart fro web English refs are poor and the situation needs to be addressed they are affecting match results

  6. CSB. I take your point but all was well until they equalised late in the game. It’s a no win situation, although I still think that the 3 man midfield would have been more effective in this game had Cattermole or Meyler been available.

  7. Jeremy. Your missing the point, a four man midfield would have retained possession better, if we have the ball they can’t score either in open play, which is unlikely for Stoke, or from set pieces. Poor challenges from a stratched midfield gave them the ball in areas where they could just lump it in to the box.

    Retaining the ball in a compact midfield would have reduced their chances.

  8. The problem with your argument is that you’ve made it up. Unless you can tell me about specific incidents of ‘thuggery’.

    I don’t like the way we play but understand it’s effective. I know we got lucky with two goals. But it happens. Both for us and against us. You see, I’m a realist. I’m not interested in Lee Cattermole’s handball. I was using it as an example to show that officials make mistakes. I’m always amazed they don’t make more.

    The fact that I am a realist is also why I know that the reason you lost isn’t anything to do with imaginary thuggery, but your failure to deal with set pieces. That is also the reason given in media reports and in your own manager’s comments on the game. You lost because you couldn’t defend. That is all.

  9. You seem heavily reliant on the evidence of a singe incident from the other game between the two sides (if I understand your reference correctly). I happen to disgree with your perspective on that (and it would be a shame to find anything much for us to agree upon).

    We had to endure consistent fouling in the penalty area, but throughout the game you got the call for non events. I’m sure that it must have been a dog farting down Roker Baths Road that had him whisting against us at times.

    We’ve been done by two offside goals, and non decisions by a spineless official and all you can talk about is a debatable hand ball from months ago and our “powder puff goalkeeper” who just got battered all afternoon.

    Frankly Mark you deserve no more than supporting Stoke City. You’re well matched!

  10. Brutal thuggery? Do we have to put up with this rubbish? By all means moan about the officials getting decisions wrong and the ugliness of the play, but don’t tar us with that one as an excuse for your powder puff goalkeeper.

    Let’s hope for your own blood pressure that Lee Probert is demoted and replaced by – let’s say for the sake of argument – Martin Atkinson for the next game. Then you can ignore offsides completely and just catch any goal bound shots and throw them out. 🙂

  11. CSB. It’s all very well in hindsight, but if there was a mistake (and with about 10 minutes left it didn’t really look like one), it was including Henderson instead of Malbranque. It was set pieces and high balls into the box that was our undoing, and that has nothing to do with the midfield. Two goals were offside and that had a little but to do with it too. If the referee and linesmen had done their job we’d have won 2-1 and come away with the points. I doubt whether we’d have been questioning Steve’s tactics then. Would we?

  12. Officials and goalkeeping aside, did Bruce get it tactically wrong. Playing Sunderlands weakest link in front of the central pair was at best too defensive. Why not put Muntari in that role and then at least maintain a four man midfield where we could play keep ball.

    The three man midfield struggled, with Henderson again have a poor game in the central midfield position.

  13. Gordon was left at the mercy of the Potters battering rams Mr Hedley. Probert’s performance was a disgrace. He took an awful lot of high balls actually, but the back four was also under assault. What a horrible team Stoke must be to watch every week. Their approach to the game was nothing short of brutal thuggery. and we found ourselves facing three additional opponents with whistles and flags. Expect Probert to be demoted after this. I certainly will be!


    In my opinion he soft peddled on our goal keeper, Gordon looked, not for the first time, utterly inept in dealing with high balls. He may be a great shot stopper but does not command his box.

    Can you imagine Schmeikle flapping like a wet fish or fretting about a couple of big players in front of him. He would have gone for those balls with commitment, ploughing a line of players, his and theirs out of the way as he took advantage of his height and reach to get to the ball.

    Gordon needs to bulk up and develop a backbone.

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