Eleventh top or bottom(ish): a Stoke clincher for Steve Bruce ?

Image: Mrs Logic

For almost as long as we can remember, the Sunderland supporters’ jury has been out on Steve Bruce.

Anyone with experience of the courts will be familiar with the intense atmosphere felt when the whispers start: “They’re coming back.”

Tonight/tomorrow – depending on when you read this – we do not have 12 men and women good and true “coming back” to pronounce the defendant Guilty or Not Guilty. But we do have 11 men plus subs whose performance may well decide the immediate future of a man who is not in any dock but, without shadow of doubt, finds himself under scrutiny.

The Sunderland team that takes the field against Stoke City is essentially Steve Bruce’s team. No more excuses. The fact that he now has only one striker in the entire squad with proper Premier experience, and that he is only on loan, is something he has to live with, whether or not one or more of the departures of Jones, Bent and Gyan occurred against his will.

If we beat Stoke City, we go 11th – unless Fulham beat Manchester City by a margin of at least two goals and we win by only one. If we lose, there is a mathematical possibility that we go bottom depending on the result from Craven Cottage. We would certainly be no higher, in such dismal circumstances, that the second bottom place we occupy tonight.

One of those scenarios would be reasonably consistent with the way we all thought the season might go. The other is, or was, unthinkable.

I want Craig Gardner to be proved right, for the Lads to show that all the doom and gloom about a start reading P4 W0 D2 L2 F2 A4 Pts2, and humiliatingly out of the Carling, is frankly nonsensical.

But as one who has refused to clamber prematurely aboard the Bruce Out bandwagon, I know what will be the consequence from the point of view of supporters if we fail. My guess is that the view of Ellis Short would also harden, to the extent that defeat might equal dismissal by Monday or Tuesday, while a draw might leave the issue undecided until Monday week at Carrow Road.

Would I be saying this if I thought anything I said would pile extra pressure on the players of the club I love? Of course not. Salut! Sunderland is almost certainly unseen, especially on matchday, by anyone who matters at SAFC. And question marks over Steve Bruce’s managership hardly originated here.

Undying support, then, for the cause. And nervous thoughts for 3pm Sunday.

Monsieur Salut

6 thoughts on “Eleventh top or bottom(ish): a Stoke clincher for Steve Bruce ?”

  1. Unfortunately it is not after a couple of defeats. The whole of 2011 has been a huge disappointment. There are, I believe, extenuating circumstances, but in the end Steve Bruce’s ability as a manager comes down to team selection, tactics and the ability to adapt when things aren’t going according to plan – making the best use of the players at his disposal.

    He may have had no say in the depatures of Jones, B£nt, Gy£n, Welbeck etc, nor unfortunate injuries to a whole raft of players but I have been less than impressed with his decision making in the past few months.

    Of course, supporters should get behind the team and I still hope Bruce will turn it round. I think this afternoon will show his intentions and is a great opportunity for him to re-establish himself. With other winnable games to come things could easily look a lot brighter come Christmas. However, should he be found wanting against a side we should hope to beat at the SSoL, then the writing is on the wall.

    I’ll be looking not so much at the result (though of course that is vital) but at the way the team sets up and approaches the task. I suspect those in control of the club will be doing much the same.

  2. I think we need to take a long-term view – changing the manager after a couple of defeats is not the solution. The transfers over the summer were good and the squad is stronger and is developing. It’s not down to Bruce that we lost Welbeck – I see it as a positive that Bruce brought him in and clearly he developed with us to the point that he was good enough to get into Manchester Utd’s first team. Let’s hope the same can happen with Whickham and Ji, and this time they are our players (until a better offer comes along ….). Let’s get behind them and the rest of the players.

  3. If the players minds are filled with doubt they will lose, if they are filled with with belief they will prevail, the team selection must be a one which sends a message that we are going to win. There is no place at this stage for doubt or a defensive approach, a couple of goals will do the team and the supporters a world of good. Here’s hoping!!!

  4. Given our record on wearside Id be happy with a draw.You have on paper the stronger side,but that ovcourse means nothing.We have a resiliance about us not many teams can match,no disrespect here but I wouldn’t be that suprised if we sneaked a win.
    As for potato head I hope he gets the chop soon for you,he has well and truely pissed your money up the wall.Anyhow good luck for the season after today that is 😉 goaaaaaaarrrrrrn You Mighty Mighty Rip Roaring Potters

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