Steve Bruce, hysteria and the case for his defence

Has Steve Bruce every right to go on the offensive in his response to the fierce criticism he has endured since losing at home to Newcastle and then away at Brighton in the Carling Cup? Well, yes and no: the calls for his head may be over the top, for now at any rate, but supporters have a right to voice their opinions on what went wrong in two games crucial to them and the club.

I am on record as stating here my belief that sacking him this early in the season, after what was then one bad result and is now two, would be absurd. As you can see from the comments that have appeared at Salut! Sunderland all week, that is hardly a universal view.

It hasn’t changed and it won’t change even if we lose tomorrow; three or four games in just doesn’t seem the right time to be contemplating such a dramatic move and change.

This is what Bruce has said today, and he doesn’t mince words:

“It shows you how difficult it is up here. The mass hysteria, I find some of it pathetic, to be honest. It engulfs you with two results, which I find disappointing.

But I have to accept it and realise that’s the way it is up here and I am not going to change it. That’s why loads of managers have probably sat here and struggled and found it difficult because of what engulfs you straight away.

But then again, you come to expect it. It’s two games (the defeats), and nobody is going to tell me in that Newcastle game that they were far better than us. They weren’t.

We made a mistake for the goal and were punished for it. I have seen the game three times over and nobody is going to tell me that we didn’t deserve any better. We deserved to get something out of the game.”

Take all that at face value and you still don’t have a proper answer to why he started the Brighton game without a recognised striker. And that is hardly the only mistake he has made. But it falls a long way short of being a sacking matter.

The debate is open, as ever, but I will otherwise stick to my guns and be inclined to re-assess the situation – and the progress, or lack of it – deep into the autumn. He has to be given a fair chance with the squad he has assembled. Another winless run like last season’s would have me joining the clamour for blood – except that Ellis Short would make the clamour unnecessary.

Monsieur Salut

29 thoughts on “Steve Bruce, hysteria and the case for his defence”

  1. Red Frog, brilliantly put. Once Peter Reid turned on us it was only going to go downhill from there, Bruce has said this sort of thing a couple of times now. Any other genuine Premier league club would have sacked you by now Steve! I hope Niall doesn’t end up like Bob Murray 🙁

  2. To be fair SB has prob been tracking a bent replacement(cisse, Bellamy, crouch/pab) and winger (swp or kran) but needed to wait for their clubs to bring in replacements before allowing them to move on at end of transfer window.
    Rumours about cisse not sure but would be a worry in jan as he and gyan would leave for African cup??? Or has sb been waiting for spurs players……. Now that spurs are starting to sign.
    Yes we brought in 10 and didn’t get off to a flyer like last season but maybe new players taking longer to figure each other out and how they like to play fresh new team from last season.

  3. You are missing the point Steve you can’t put a team together that can beet that shambles of a so called football club down the road so pack up and go and manage them 3 years later and we are no further forward

  4. well said frog! Steve b thinks it is unfair to judge him on 2 poor results short memory as i recollect goals scored in last 13 games is appalling and win ratio less than 30% not good is it! Felt sorry for fans travelling down to brighton they are the backbone of our club along with chairman!

  5. On a weekend when Sunderland fielded all four so-called ‘strikers’ we failed to score. However, on this same weekend former strikers Bent, Jones and Phillips (2), all scored. Bent and Phillips know by experience or instinct where to position themselves and I saw the master of this craft at Roker Park in the 60’s. Like Cloughie, they thrive on passes set up by attacking team mates, and Jones’ header was also a poachers touch. And that is what we lack. Sessignon is tricky and could work with a genuine striker, but with respect to Gyan, Whickham and Ji Dong, they are not that type of player. Like our mighty Quinn, their presence and skills can get us 10+ goals a season, and some of them will be spectacular, but to make the top tier of the premier league we need a goal poacher in the 20+ bracket. SuperKev was the golden boot with 30 when we finished 7th. We had all summer to find that type of player. Would it not have been better to focus all the club’s scouts’ minds on finding someone who already does that or in a lower league has the potential to do it with the better service which our premier league midfielders and a marauding partner can offer.

  6. I am truly sorry Steve B, I didnt realise you where so sensitive, After 3 games we turn against you and those you call your team.

    Obviously my season ticket and the thousands I spend following and supporting, fade into nothing in comparison to the revenue you generate for the club. My opinion (like others) means nothing and we should remember our places.

    May I remind all you readers, We must all remember it is Steve and the others who he employs that keep this club afloat.

    Can I now on behalf of all Forty Odd Thousand who think they have the right to criticise, appologise for having ideas above our station.

    We should all keep our mouths shut and let you get on with it.

  7. When we sold Bent last season,he wasn’t replaced and as a result,we struggled.I can’t believe that we’re in the third week of the season and we still haven’t replaced Bent and are struggling again.A top class striker should have been a priority and should have been sorted before the season began as should the left sided positions we are short in.As for the Brighton game ,what other premier manager would have fielded a team without strikers against championship opposition ? Lose tomorrow and against Chelsea and I think Bruce should walk before being pushed.

  8. Did someone say Joey Barton? Certainly not me!
    Surely, though, the point is that it’s NOT just two rotten results, it’s two rotten results this season on top of all the rotten results last season. And even if you take only those two rotten results, I don’t one “rather good” draw is an adequate balance.
    You know one of the worst things about what’s going on – for me, anyway? I had hoped (as I wrote here a while ago, thus calling down all manner of calumny upon myself) to disengage from all the emotional entanglement and simply take each game for what it was and not worry about the week-to-week ramifications. Somehow, that hasn’t happened yet.

  9. Jeremy: right to point out the double posting. What I know about web stuff can be fitted on the back of an old OK bus ticket and still leave room for War & Peace. The duplicate has been trashed.
    Charles and several others: I didn’t want to chronicle the whole litany of grievances with Bruce’s regime – I have written often enough about the failure to replace Bent and my rejection of Bruce’s attempts last season to explain it.

    A winless run like last season’s would do for my remaining confidence in his abilities but then my view wouldn’t matter since Short would have seen him off already

    I am just trying to apply a sense of proportion to two rotten results, which followed a rather good one. We had a spot of luck at Anfield but finished the better side against very strong opponents, and we were on top for long periods vs Newcastle, again with luck re the penalty/red card call, while Brighton – lamentably – was exactly what we’ve come to expect. Lose tomorrow and I will be as down as anyone. But all of that does not, in my honest view, amount to a sacking offence so early in the season.

    And I am not just saying so in the hope that Bruce will buy a mug or two. I mean Salut! Sunderland mugs, not useless players for the positions we all know still need filling.

  10. I keep thinking back to Paulo da Silva. Did he ever actually start a game for us? I know he got precious little time on the field. SB just kept saying he “wasn’t ready.”

  11. What a bloody shambles- for two seasons now we have needed a left back a left winger and since bents departcher a 20 goal a season stricker. Bruce has made all these signings this summer and still hasn,t sorted out our MAJOR problem positions. He has brought all these players to the club and starts the majority of them on the bench. We are not winning games in case he hasn,t noticed now bite the bulliet and give them a start instead of bringing them on when its too late in the game . Jaun wants a kick up the backside to earn his corn or ship him out. Come on bruce earn your wages and less of the drible you spout.

  12. Bruce (i believe in my ability) well signs are only he’ does) deeply concerned about Bruce statements lately (we went with What i call quite an attacking formation chains brighton) odd that we had no recognised striker! If Tmrw’s outcome is we lose and lose badly’ fans will be singing for Bruce out and i for 1 will be joining the party?

  13. It’s not negativity, Michael; it’s more constructive than what Bruce is saying. Sure, luck plays a part sometimes, but you don’t get wins because you “deserve” them; you have to fight for them. Newcastle didn’t have to be far better than us, just a bit better. And, when it counted, they were.
    We may have finished 10th last season but it doesn’t take too much imagination to think back and see us instead falling into a Peter Reid kind of situation. There’s a hard lesson here and I’m not sure we’ve learned it.

  14. That’s an excellent posting Michael and you are totally correct about Quinn needing to shjow some steel and the capability to make a decision. He tried to talk Keane oujt of leaving when walking out, when it was the best outcome at the time and then proceeded to offer Sbragia a job for life when it was an own goal from the Mags that kept us afloat. He needs to realise that he can’t be the genial giant all of the time. His rant about stay away fans was misguided and backfired on him, and now is the time to determine whether Quinn really has the capacity to do what is needed, when it is needed. We’ve been over cautious in the past and I don’t remember a manager ever being fired early on in a campaign. It has always been done too late when the incoming manager’s first job is to fight for promotion as invariably we are already down or have one foot in the next division down. For this scenario read Buxton, Reid, Butcher, Crosby, Wilkinson, McCarthy etc. We seem determined to let any manager complete the relegation battle and lose it rather than take action. That for me has been the hallmark of defeatism displayed by the Chairman of the time from Cowie, to Murray and now to Quinn. This practice has to stop and stop now.

  15. The last 3 games of the season saved the bloke a lot of time however, the way we have started and the lack of bollocks on the field against Newcastle (again) is a concern. I think it is fair to say (in my opinion), he did not want to progress in the cup. We couldn’t handle being in the cup and concentrate in the league, and fair play to him. I only wish he had stuck some of the promising fringe lads and the new boys on but hey, each to their own.

    He has brought some good players in from relegated teams. I remember Michael Proctor, Sean Thornton and even Kevin Kyle standing out in our relegated teams in the past. Don’t get me wrong, I know these players are better but, are we really pressing on here? Have we replaced Bent (if it is at all possible)? Where are the goals coming from? It is a nice “warming” thought to think Sess can step up and get us 15 goals a season playing from the “prolific” Gyan but it just isn’t happening!

    I would love nothing more than for SB to gel the team and make me eat my words. I will be jumping around the streets of Baku (I live in Azerbaijan now) praising the bloke like the rest of us but Niall Quinn needs to have the balls to say when enough is enough. Peter Reid got sacked when it was too late to save us. None of us want to see that again…

    Sorry for the negativity but I am sick of the same old patter dripping from SB’s mouth.


  16. Absolutely spot on posting. In the wake of the abysmal second half of last season he had to get off to a flyer at this beginning of this one.

    It’s not about 3 games, or even 13 games. It’s more about the last 23 which equates to half a season or more. We started last season with proven PL forwards and this year we start with two kids who are barely beyond youth team age and experience and are 10M the worse off for it.

    Bruce should keep his big mouth shut and realise that patience has run out for a great many of our fans. Bereft of the craft or guile to manage a team he should at least be able to manager some control over his over zealous gob. Turn on the fans and the clock for his dismissal will click even louder. He can go for me and go today. If we lose the next game then what we all think will cease to matter as his position will be untenable, regardless.

  17. He’s disappointed AGAIN!!
    Does Bruce genuinely believe that he can start the new season with an absolutely clean slate and that the deficiencies, disappointments and sometimes woeful decisions of last season have no bearing on his situation? It’s not two results, it’s two results added to all the other bad results.
    “We made a mistake… and were punished for it.” HE’s made mistake after mistake and hasn’t been punished for them. Now he’s attacking the fans for “mass hysteria.” It’s “pathetic,” all right, but not from the fans’ standpoint, from his.
    Give Bruce until deep into the autumn, by all means. I for one would be delighted to have him prove me wrong. I’d happily come back on Salut! Sunderland and say, “Steve Bruce was right and I was full of s***.” But I’ll believe it when I see it. My fear is that by deep into the autumn, we’re going to have a lot of hard catching up to do.

  18. I think both you and Stevie Bruce are missing the point. I don’t believe most Sunderland fans are calling for his head on the back of 2 bad results…. No no no.. I think we are so upset because this has gone on for the best part of 7 months. Let’s deal with facts since Sunderland decided to sell our top striker, the only one that could score goals, I.e Darren Bent on January 18th we have played 17 premier league games, scored just 21 goals and picked up just 14 points. If you spread that return over 38 games you have a return of 31 points. 2 less than what bottom of the table West Ham finished with. If you then factor in we’ve had 7 months to identify Darren Bent’s replacement and we are presented with the unknown Ji Don Won and the expensive Conor Wickham, who we are told by Bruce that they should come good in 18 months beggars belief. If you then add in the terrible derby defeat and the the supposedly “we are taking the carling cup seriously” fiasco where we start the game with no recognised striker, you can see why many have a lot of questions about Stevie Bruce!!!!

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