Steve Bruce: no time for tantrums

Thanks to Bernard Platt, Wigan Athletic AFC & This Northern Soul

We’ll take a long time getting round to it, but the question is simple enough: what possible interest was served by Steve Bruce refusing, if the reports are correct, to attend the post-match press conference? …

Salut! Sunderland supports Sunderland AFC with absolute passion. It was created by a journalist who started his career in the North East and later moved to Fleet Street (though he has also spent thousands of pounds and devoted countless hours to following the club since boyhood).

None of that will ever stop this site criticising SAFC when criticism seems merited, or criticising the press when that is merited, too.

A fair-minded review of the archive would show that we are short of neither commitment to SAFC nor a willingness to express forthright opinions. We raise eyebrows about transfers, tactics, policy decisions and all sorts of other matters on which supporters are fully entitled to take a view. We are happy to point out media idiocy when it seems to us to have occurred (as during the ludicrous Angeleri v Bruce saga).

We receive no favours from the club, and have effectively stopped hoping that any should be granted.

Niall Quinn did respond magnificently to a Salut! Sunderland request for a letter to be sent for use at the funeral of a supporter, but the only other contacts between site and club have barely been worth the effort on our part.

Once, when new shirts were unveiled and we offered to publicise them and maybe drive a few buyers towards the club shop, permission to show the tops was refused (Tombola, which sponsors the blasted things, has proved a happier hunting ground in that respect). There have been other instances of co-operation unreasonably denied, but none of sufficient interest to bear repeating; it is a scandalous state of affairs, as I believe, or entirely acceptable business practice, as the club undoubtedly sees it.

Equally, we expect and receive little mainstream media exposure beyond a link when Pete Sixsmith does the honours for The Observer‘s fans’ verdicts slot. So there are no further interests to declare, no real axes to grind.

And that, at long last, leads us to the point.

Steve Bruce must either produce a good reason for being absent from the post-Wigan press conference – pressing business elsewhere, a family crisis etc – or he should be told by the club in no uncertain terms that it is his duty, not his choice, to attend such occasions. The Guardian, more eloquent than the rest, said: “Perhaps celebrating, Bruce body-swerved the post-match press conference.” Most reports merely parroted the “did not conduct it” line put out by the Press Association and a few said he “snubbed” it.

The press is always a useful scapegoat when things go wrong. By and large, however, far worse things are said down the pub and at work about a team going through a frankly atrocious run, and about the manager and team responsible for that run, than will ever be found in the nastiest of newspaper reports.

And what about the electronic media?

OK, Steve still sent me his usual e-mail – whoever writes it, I hear some mischief-maker saying – but he also did the on-screen stuff after the match. Don’t football phone-ins include the same barbed comments you find in the press? Isn’t it perfectly easy to find destructive as well as constructive criticism on the TV and radio, and on TV and radio websites? If you wish to be principled, Steve, and say “up with this I will not put”, do not pick and choose in the pretence that it is always a case of printed press=bad, electronic media=good.

Steve Bruce is a talented man, was an outstanding footballer and may well be a great manager of Sunderland AFC. Writers and readers at Salut! Sunderland are divided on the last of those points, which is no more than a moderately intelligent person would expect given what we endured between Jan 22 and 10 minutes into Saturday’s second half. For the record, I believe – and have already stated – that the time to judge Steve Bruce on this season’s performance is some time after 6pm on May 22.

But it must also be pointed out that Steve is exceptionally well rewarded for what he does, pressure and all, and owes it to the public to accept the most robust criticism when the club is letting down its supporters week in, week out.

He must be as open as duty permits even if that requires him to meet a bunch of ghastly hacks in the SoL media room after a game. Once there, after a result as gratifying as Saturday’s, he can by all means rub noses in it. In my humble view, he has no reason to throw a tantrum and refuse to attend. And if there is a good reason for non-attendance, someone from the club should let that be known.

If the reports, including Eric Black’s apparent confirmation that he simply preferred not to attend, are wrong, Salut! Sunderland will apologise unreservedly.

Monsieur Salut

24 thoughts on “Steve Bruce: no time for tantrums”

  1. Martin,

    yet again we get an inaccurate rant. I will challenge you to provide a single post that I have done that has called for SB’s head. I questioned his appointment, I continue to question his tactics.
    As I have said previously, I would love for him to prove me wrong, and I wholly endorse him being given a third season as per his original contract.

    You did not offend me, I was merely pointing out that on a supposedly mature blog site petty name calling and the rubbishing of others comments just because they do not correspond with your own opinion is rather juvenile. It would be very interesting to view again the games of this season and just count how many sexy displays of football we have actually put together.

    Additionally, my comments relating to the may 2012 position were not directed at you as you seem to think, but were there as prod for further debate.

  2. CSB – Oh dear – I offended the chap. You didn’t want Bruce in the managers chair from the start, but he’s the catalyst for the sexiest football you’ve seen at S’land since you took your first breath. Therein lies my problem.

    I didn’t say I don’t give a dam about your opinion, I said I don’t give a shiny one what you think I should do. As for your opinion, I don’t give a damn about it.

    Your opinion reflects your initial prejudice, and in your mind you are vindicated because of the appalling run we’ve had. You didn’t like the appointment from the beginning, so naturally you’re going to jump at any chance to muller the guy. But there’s no escaping the fact that he’s responsible for the best football you’ve ever witnessed at our place. Does that in itself not warrant a little patience?

    Your attitude about Steve Bruce is fickle, irrespective of how long you’ve worn the shirt. Sorry I have to explain that for you. You are calling for his head at a time when anyone with a third of a brain can see that he’s had a ridiculously horrendous run of bad fortune. Prior to the bad fortune we were beating Chelsea away, and were up to 6th in the Prem. I’m willing to wager that you weren’t whining then! But after the team he’s built, and the football they play, to berate him and want him out is more fickle than I can adequately put into words.

    What he’s doing on the pitch is in direct relation to the plethora of missing players. Do you really have to have this explained to you? Please tell me you’re not going to do what the other raw talent did and whine about Sess playing out of position? SB gets a hammering even when his tactics work! He’s damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t!

    Well said Martin W and Davey. You restore some belief into my bones! SB shown us more than enough to warrant another season at least at the helm. Any supporter with a modicum of appreciation for the much higher standard than we’ve ever been accustomed to, will support this notion.

    Over and out.

  3. My confidence in bruce has been shaken in this bad run of form. Especially as it happened last season too and his previous clubs have reported similar events. Surely SB should have learned lessons by now? However, I don’t want to see us changing manager every few seasons. We need stability and Bruce has shown the potential to lift us to better things so lets give him a chance to turn this round. We’ve had 2 top half prem finishes in how many years?! So if he can keep us consistantly top ten its a vast improvement on the yo-yo club we were. Most of the signs this season have been good. As people have mentioned we have played much better football than we’ve been used to (although i’d suggest peter reid’s 7th place seasons as an equal – both of those seasons we had very bad form in feb too!).

    Yes, the club is much healthier now than then and bruce has had WAY more cash than any manager i can remember but i think most of his signings have been cut from a much finer cloth than any we’ve had previously. There have been mistakes- the paraguayans, angeleri – but far more good than bad. The club has seen a huge change in a very short time. These kinds of changes take time to have their full effect but i think we’re headed in the right direction for the most part. If we ever return to the days of players like murphy, the Nose, etc. We’ve come a long way in a short time so we just need patience and we’ll get to where we deserve to be. I have faith in Quinn and Short. They have the best interests of our club at heart.

  4. It’s good to see a lively debate here . Obvioulsy anyone with a different opinion to mine is an ignorant **** . However that’s free speech for you
    I think , although Bruce has his faults – the main one is his obvious inability to hide his frustration , anger etc – as he changes colour to a very fetching beetroot red !, he is much better than the previous managers we have had to suffer . Keane apart – who , i thought raised our profile , and got us back on track , but who didn’t have the necessary experience and patience to take us to the next level . Bruce has in my opinion got it – so we need to give himn another season at least – before becoming like the unwashed up the road who need a new manager every couple of weeks
    I hope after our second half display on Saturday , especially that of Sess and Muntari , Elmo too (who had his best game to date ) , that BB and the likes are not advocating the return of such greats as Murphy , Edwards and Nosey

  5. Martin,

    Seeing as you don’t give a dam about my opinion (however you still respond to it) and I appear to make you want to vomit and additionally I am ungrateful, impatient, fickle, and I completely lack an appreciation of what Steve Bruce is trying to do is mainly based around my oft repeated comment that I did not want Bruce in the managers chair from the start. That being the case it is up to SB to impress me to such an extent that I change my mind. To date he has not done that.

    Additionally I also take issue with several of your other comments, ungreatful, what do I have to be greatful for, impatient, I have been a supporter home and away since the start of the 60’s, fickle, see previous comment.

    I do however agree with your final comment about being unable to see what SB is trying to do on the pitch, me and quite a few other folk.

    You are obviously elated with SB’s performance to date and are not afraid to put your point, good for you. However there are those who are not elated and have every bit as much right to put there point as you. Those who do not agree with your analysis will not be silenced by your insults or rants.

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  6. There are legitimate questions to ask about the training regime in operation and whether players have been rushed back too quickly. Nobody should be criticised for that when SB was saying that this issue needs to be investigated (on the Match of the Day), interview. Football management is a complex task, and has a lot more to do with general management of resources as in any other business than we sometimes think. There’s a lot more to do than sign and train footballers. Our injury list and the recurrence of injuries to certain players is a serious matter and I’m pleased to see that this has been recognised by our manager, as it’s been such a headache this season.

  7. I will be the first to admit if I’m wrong. But CSB – I’m asking you directly. Have you ever in the last 40 years seen football anywhere near as good as it has been for the majority of the season. The answer is – You haven’t – because I’ve seen most of the games, and the team we have now play football play a way more superior level to any other Sunderland team in decades. As a Sunderland fan I am grateful for that. It’s SUCH a refreshing change from the utter scrimshank I’ve had to witness over the years. So – frankly I don’t give a shiny one about what you think I should do if or when he fails. Because to me, for the first time since I fell head over heels with the club, some of our play is beautiful to watch. You and all the doubters make me want to reach for a bucket. You are ungrateful, impatient, fickle, and you completely lack an appreciation of what Steve Bruce is trying to do. You react when results don’t go your way, and in difficult times. We all want the same – but we are unlikely to bring any success when we bring out the guillotine whenever times get tough. I am relieved to see that there seems to be more people agreeing with me than not. That gives me at least a little hope that most people can appreciate what he’s done, and what he’s likely to do if he’s not booted out. I know football management is a fickle business, but Brucie has shown us in abundance that he is capable of taking us to where we want to be. All he needs is a change of fortune, because the injuries he’s had are off the map. People like Bill Taylor (I had you wired from the start mate) support SB when things are going well, and offer supportive comments (even to the extent of confessing that his initial judgement of him was harsh)but as soon as there’s any signs of unrest, he’s back on the bandwaggon – if not a little gingerly! The words “turncoat” and “hypochrite” spring to mind. All Generals won the war when their troops were behind him. We need to support Steve Bruce and his depleted squad, and we’ll see what he can do next year.

    PS – who said they didn’t rate Onuoha – Crazy person!

  8. Personally, I think we have gone off kilter on this. The point of the article was that Bruce should have attended the press conference. His non-attendance looks like he is snubbing the press because of the criticism that has been coming his way due to our horrendous form (and injuries) suffered since the new year.

    I think it would have been better for him to attend and meet head on the hacks to put his point of view, which is something he does do in the press an awful lot, sometimes too much. Bruce was uncompromising as a player and he should be the same in management and i thought he was, so I am suprised at this situation.

    Regardless of your opinion of SB’s manangement skills, I hope that all who are exponents of his ability are willing to step up to the plate by May 2012 to either gloat or eat humble pie, I know I will and I also know which it will be.

    Debate is healthy, and we all want the same thing, we just differ in how best to achieve the prize.

    P.S. Rome was not built in a day but have you seen the stae of it now!!!

  9. Larry:

    You question playing Sess on the left, when “Steed is much better on the left, we’ve seen that over the last few seasons” …

    But where did three of the goals on Saturday come from – Sess on the left (2) and Malbranque crossing from the right!

  10. We’ve also relied on too many loan signings. Just to keep us at the standard we are at right now, we will have to buy 4 or 5 players. Yes, more often than not this season we have been a much better team than in previous years, but much of that team doesn’t belong to us. To be honest i’m not fussed on onuaha, elmo or mensah. Wellbeck has been good but we’ll never get him. Summer will be interesting but i can’t see bruce getting a blank cheque like previous seasons.

  11. mr bruce has shown the potential to take us to greatness but there are (at the moment) too many question marks regarding our regular season drop him for sess who was clearly short of fitness. And, of all things, play sess on the left when he is a right sided player. Steed is much better on the left, we’ve seen that over the last few seasons. I sincerely hope steve proves me wrong and goes on to have much success with our club but at the minute i can’t see it. Its all just too inconsistant.

  12. BB states – Martin – there are few who can equal your enthusiasm for Mr Bruce I hope you were including me in those few – as I have stated on numerous occassions – we have the nucleus of the best team I have ever seen at Sunderland – (I saw my first match in the late sixties at home to Man Utd – Baxter dazzles Utd were the headlines I remember from that match)
    Again as previously stated by yours truly – all we needed was a little bit of luck – a change in fortune – the rub of the green . We played very well 2nd half on Saturday – Sess and Muntari were excellent – they have been unfortunate to join the club when confidence has been rock bottom – I thought Muntari – linked defence to attack brilliantly . Sess and Steed were unplayable . Just look a the last 4 minutes of the match – they kept the ball – to run down the clock – something we have been incapable of doing for years

  13. I cannot buy everything Martin says, and naturally stick to my guns on the thrust of my original post, but each of his points rings at least partly true. We have seen some unusually bright, skillful football, some of our players, his players are – or should be – among the best 20-30 per cent in the Premier and he has, unless responsibility is shown to rest with him or backroom staff he trusts, been incredibly unfortunate. And like Robin at the other thread, I would regard top 10, preferably (not, for me, essential) above Newcastle as a success. But success and failure can be very finely balanced and the tightness of the league makes that even more so, and also means a couple of points could separate respectability and disappointment. So even the judgement I make on or after May 22 will have to take account of how close it is likely to have been to going either way.

  14. Sanddancer – My affection for Niall Quinn is even greater! But even he would tell you the skill level has nothing to do with him. Remember his reign as manager??

    Players have been rushed back too soon, but in most circumstances it was out of necessity. One thing I like about Brucie is that he owns up to his mistakes and is always willing to take responsibility for getting it wrong. Can you imagine that twisty faced, miserable, serial complainer, “woe is me”, everyone’s plotting against us – Arsene Wenger doing that? NO WAY PEDRO.

    Look – water is wet, the sky is blue, and Steve Bruce – WHO GOT US UP TO 6TH, AND ORCHESTRATED A 0-3 THUMPING OF CHELSEA AT THE BRIDGE, is the best manager we have ever had.

    Everyone slates his stints at Birmingham and Wigan, but he was operating on a shoestring budget, and if Whelan hadn’t decided to cash in on most of their best players, Brucie would have created history at Wigan. Some of his purchases were undeniably inspired. Valencia, Palacios. Bramble, Rodellega, Figeuroa, Heskey etc. Same at Birmingham. Most of his buys were top notch, and he saved them from relegation. And despite all the turmoil at the club at the time, he maintained their status and saved their hyde when everything around him was falling apart. Of course when he flees the nest, there’s going to be a hate campaign, and that’s inevitable.

    Some of the best managers around have been given time to prove themselves, and the relevant Chairman has bucked the sacking trend, and handed the lucky guy carte blanche to go out and do his stuff. Alex Ferguson, David Moyes, Chris Hughton (joke), Harry Redknapp (great coach!), Tony Pulis, Arsene Wenger. They all have one thing in common. The organization put their faith in them, and supported them, despite opposition from a hard core of impatient fans. That’s what we need to do with SB. He ticks all the boxes in terms of becoming a top manager – without exception. but the way you lot are going – in your ignorance you’re sending him to an early grave. Nobody has been more devastated than me, witnessing yet another catastrophic Sunderland collapse. I was close to heart failure when the Mags played us off the park – twice. But I have the sack to admit that despite everything, Steve Bruce has given us a pretty damn decent team. But we’re not going to go from zero’s to hero’s overnight. We have to give him, and the team some breathing space. But if by next season we’re still falling short, I will join the boo boy club.

    Niall is a talented negotiator and sells the club well, but the likes of Gyan will tell you that the major influence behind their decision to join was the manager.

    Give him a chance guys. Shut up and support him. I know when I’m right – and at the risk of sounding arrogant – you”re wrong!

  15. I have sympathy with Martin’s argument but like many my faith with Bruce has been shaken. To me there are two questions to be answered.
    1) Is the upturn in the skill level of the team down to Bruce or Quinn? Previous managers have had to manage the club with far less money available to them. Even I could buy canny players if money was no object. Quinn sells the club to them.
    2) Is the bad luck truly that or down to poor training methods and rushing players back too soon, as has been rumoured recently? If it’s down to the latter then he must change drastically or go.

  16. I agree with you on both counts Birflatt boy.

    It hasn’t been easy supporting Sunderland over the years. I mean – the Villa fans are disgustingly coy, and sickeningly arrogant, but they’re right. We’ve been a laughing stock for years. Some of the utter dross we’ve had to put up with over the years is not befitting of our passionate, sizeable support, and for the longest time we’ve been a “sleeping giant”. Almost every time we muscle our way into the big league, we’re back down again. Why? Because we haven’t been able to attract top players and the club refused to meet excessive wage demands. UNTIL NOW!

    For the first time in my 40 odd years of supporting Sunderland, we are competing with the big clubs for International standard players, and the brand of football is more superior than I have ever seen it at Sunderland. Some of our link up play, and one touch passing has been a pleasure to behold, and hand on heart,
    for the life of me – I can’t understand the petulance and ill-feeling towards the guy who’s given us that, especially considering the unbelievably horrible luck he’s had. You lot have walked the same mile in the same shoes as I have, and if you haven’t been able to appreciate the vastly superior play, compared to the pitiful pants we’ve been accustomed to for decades, then you should all join a Stevie Wonder tribute.

    It’s at the very least a little dim to mug the guy, when he’s shown us that he’s capable of building a squad to compete with the very best. Peter Reid did a fantastic job for us, but the football still wasn’t the best. Since Steve Bruce was appointed, he’s bought and loaned some great players. Sessegnon (alright – he’s taking time to settle in) but the fella’s got so much skill. Muntari is a flippin Champs League winner. Turner – great player, Cattermole – when fit is a top midfielder. Onuaha, Welbeck. Darren Bent – now playing for Shiteston Villa – inspired buy. He didn’t want Bent to leave – but he took the can for it. Anyway – the list goes on.

    Let’s face it, it was always going to be a struggle post Bent. But the unforeseen catalogue of injuries has cost us far greater. But to slam dunk Mr Bruce, and rub vinegar in his wounds is stupid, fickle, and unintellegent. He needs at least another season to show what I already know he’s capable of.
    So BB in response to your one swallow doesn’t make a summer. Rome wasn’t built in a day youngster! Compredez?

  17. Well Martin. There are few who can equal your enthusiasm for Mr Bruce. I think that you may find that one swallow doesn’t make a summer; even if it gives you a good feeling on a Saturday night. 😉

  18. I couldn’t care less either about the convenience or otherwise of my fellow hacks.

    All I am saying is that to be true to his convictions, he should have been nowhere near the MOTD camera/microphone either. I’ve explained why.

    Top-class tennis requires players to attend post-match press conferences. There is no stipulation that they have to like doing it, nor anything to stop them slagging off the media. It is just seen as part of the job, and the media – all, not selective bits of it – are their route to public ears and eyes. If they refuse to attend, they’re fined. QED.

  19. Steve Bruce has given us the fans potentially the best team we’ve ever seen at our place. I don’t care if this is perceived as an excuse – he’s had the stinkiest luck of any manager in history! We have the nucleus of an amazing team. When can anyone remember us taking the game the way we have done this season to the likes of Chelsea, Man U, Arsenal (twice), Man City, Aston (arrogant) Villa, etc? From challenging for Europe to fighting relegation has been crushing, devastating, bitterly disappointing. But to lay all the blame at the feet of the manager with all the bad luck with injuries is mind-bendingly lame. Considering how depleted our ranks are, I can’t see us getting many more (if any) points and undoubtedly the Chairman will bow to the pressure of fickle, impatient supporters, and Steve will be shown the door. The guy’s doing his utmost best with the resources he has available, but in the past few weeks he’s been the target of relentless, over-the-top abuse. At least he has a few bob though. In his interview on match of the day he went out of his way to thank and congratulate our fans for sticking behind the team. It’s a little bit of a shame that his loyalty to us isn’t reciprocated by the intolerant majority. Well done indeed for not turning up Steve. I care not a jot. I sincerely hope his doubters receive a large custard tart in the face – I for one still believe they will.

  20. Whereas I can understand and appreciate the sentiments expressed in the two replies (above) my sentiments are more accurately reflected in the article.

    So, I would say “well said” and agree that the club should hold him to account.

  21. I really couldn’t care less about him missing the press conference. It may be tough for the journalists who cover the club etc, as these guys need to earn a living but as far as the fans go it’s not a big deal at all.

    I’d be careful using such glowing terms about a manager presiding over one win in ten.

  22. SB missing the press conference is no big deal for me as a fan.
    He’s attends often when we lose to face the press. Maybe he went out to celebrate?
    Sure I wanted to know what happened to Bardsley and Gyan in terms of injury, but I could get that news from the website.
    No big deal.

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