Arsenal Soapbox: time is running out, Steve

M Salut’s preference for leaving the momentous decision until we’ve completed our October AND November games was already controversially kind. One down after 28 seconds, without a forward on the pitch, it was looking almost irresponsibly benevolent. Pete Sixsmith, hardly a kneejerk Bruce Out man, is rapidly losing faith …

As I placed my well upholstered bottom on my well upholstered Ashburton Grove seat, I sat back in anticipation of a battling performance against an out of sorts Arsenal side.

Rather less than 60 seconds later, bottom was out of seat as Mignolet picked ball out of the net after Les Gunners had carved us open down the flank and the imperious van bloody Persie swept home a goal of breathtaking quality. Not quite the start we had hoped for, was it?

No marking whatsoever for this one. Brown completely lost van bloody Persie who revelled in the amount of space he had. For the second game in succession, we were a goal down before we had got our bums settled.

For the next 20 minutes we were tortured. Arteta and van bloody Persie pulled us around all over the place. Bruce’s controversial team selection (of which more later) meant there was no outlet for us and the ball just kept coming back as Arsenal ran at us with confidence and, it has to be said, some style.

And then, after a couple of scares, we began to clamber back into the game, and Larsson’s free kick levelled the scores after Arteta had handled on the edge of the box.

It was a wonderful free kick, beautifully curled around the wall and it quelled the chants of “Bruce Out” from the infants sat (or stood) behind me.

For the next quarter of an hour, we were the better side and Cattermole and Colback both missed good opportunities to put us into a surprise lead and to start a mutiny among the Montys and Ruperts who inhabit Ashburton Grove – although it looked like a fair number of season ticket holders had passed on this one.

Notice that I have not mentioned a forward so far.

Hardly surprising as the only man left up front was Sessegnon against the twin giants of Koscielny and Mertrsacker. I thought the little fella did well and he bought a good number of free kicks by turning away from the lumbering German, but that is not his role.

Without Bendtner, we have nothing. I have yet to see anything to suggest that Ji or Wickham can cut it in the Premier League. Ji came on in the second half and was told to play wide left. He followed instructions, but he ain’t no Dennis Tueart.

Wickham got the last 10 minutes as an exhausted Sessegnon went off, but looked as uncoordinated as Colin West did when Alan Durban pushed him into the first team at the same age. His body language does not look good.

The second half was constant Arsenal pressure and they scored a deserved winner with eight minutes left when we gave away yet another unnecessary foul on the edge of the box and van bloody Persie did what Larsson did and curled home a beauty.

Mignolet could have built a better wall, but it was a good goal and was conceded because, as we had no outlet up front, the ball kept coming back at us and defenders were under pressure.

They had sent Arshavin on for the tiring Gervinho and he ran at us, causing a number of problems which Turner and Brown appeared to be dealing with until the goal came. Once that went in, our hopes went, and although Ji put the ball in the net, he was well offside.

We are now sitting one place above the drop zone. The manager appears to be, in football speak, ”beleaguered”.

He will come in for a lot of criticism for the team he picked. I think he got it right under the circumstances, ie no Bendtner. However, I also think that he got his substitutions wrong. Once again, he took Larsson off. Is he carrying an injury that we know nothing about, because he is taken off regularly? If he is going off, and Ji is coming on, why not push Ji up front rather than wide left?

Why was Elmohamady not withdrawn? He spent most of the game giving the ball away and failing to make tackles. But he stays on. We have had a winger on the bench for the last four games, but he (McClean) is not used. In fact, the bench looks weak, with three youngsters there today, plus a lad straight out of the League of Ireland.

Colback and Cattermole did OK, but both missed good chances. Neither has scored for us and quite frankly, they look as if they never will. Both are predictable and lack imagination. Gardner came on with 1 +5 minutes to go – far too late to influence the game.

We never bothered Szczesny in the second half and most of the action took place away from the Tourist End. We should be thankful that Walcott and Arshavin seem to be happy to walk the ball into the net – had they been as clinical as van bloody Persie, we could have been on the end of a hammering.

The manager will probably survive this, but I am losing confidence in his ability to “turn things round”. To do that you have to be able to tweak the style of play, introduce new ideas and choose sides that are unpredictable. I have seen nothing to suggest that the management team can do any one of those, yet alone all three.

Bolton now becomes a crucial game, as does the home game with Villa. We need a minimum of four points out of these two. Should we lose both (not inconceivable), Bruce’s position becomes untenable. And that is when the owner has to make the biggest two decision of his footballing life.

Our sanity rests on you, Ellis.

44 thoughts on “Arsenal Soapbox: time is running out, Steve”

  1. Liking it, Jeremy. Thats the best one yet. Ill keep thinking and might yet come up with something apposite. Bob’s your man for pain and suffering.

  2. If we’re going to start quoting Dylan then I’m all for it. How about “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind’s blowing?”

    It’s a cold and wet one and I hope it’s fierce enough to blow Bruce through the exit door.

    This is a worse start to a season than the last time we went down.

  3. ‘Yes, unfortunately my Bob quote comes from the song ‘You are Going to Make me Lonesome When you Go’. Couldnt be further from the truth in the case of Steve.

  4. Putting on my folk-rock hat (I nearly wrote folk hat & frock), I could mention Dylan’s If You’ve Got To Go, Go Now. Most of you would approve of that, but shudder at the next line: “or else you’ve got to stay all night”. It also keeps the French flavour since Fairport Convention took a translation into the charts, Sandy Denny singing Si Tu Dois Partir. And doesn’t the Bruce clan have origins in Normandy?

  5. Well, Bob is a kind of philosopher, or as near as I get to philosophy most of the time. It takes all sorts Davey.

  6. Well all I can say to the ABB , it’s probably thanks to me that this thread has evolved from cake making to French philosophy
    I’m not sure where Bob Dylan fits in that though

  7. Can’t think of anything apt by GBS, but there is a deceptively simple line by Bob Dylan which I have found useful at times when decisions have needed to be made-“If somethings not right its wrong”.

  8. Voltaire was also of the view that whatever happened, no matter how bad that it was for the best.

    It was of course complete baloney but I’m wondering if Ellis Short has become an advocate for Voltaire. He must now see that things are indeed bleak, even if his conclusions in how most effectively to deal with such bleakness are to do nothing.

    George Bernard Shaw anyone?

  9. i wont be going to another game until that clown leaves ive contacted club and asked to be part reimbursed for my season ticket sadly

  10. To be fair to BB, Davey, it is fairly succinct, no eloborate prose or flowery language, just staright to the point.

    However, as the great and late Voltaire said (or not as it may actually have been Evelyn Beatrice Hall)

    “I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”?

    Otherwise it would be a boring blog.

    • I think you’re right, CSB. Not Voltaire, I believe, though he thought that way and is probably chuffed to bits that it’s attributed to him. You’re certainly right re Davey.

  11. BB

    I’m just trying to show a different side of the argument ; obviously I haven’t got the necessary intelligence , flair and writing techniques to come up with such original lines as “Davey . why don’t you just shut up ?” However I’ll persevere

  12. It’s all been said. If you are filling a bucket of water. How much do you let spill over the top to make sure it’s full.

    It’s the same with Bruce. How long do you have to fail to proved that you have indeed failed?

    If Short is happy with this form of management then he should just give him a ten year contract. He doesn’t seem to give a flying fig about performances or results.

  13. We kicked off and almost immediately gave the ball to them, so 26 seconds is a gross exaggeration!!!!!!!

    By Christmas we could be in an irreversible downward spiral.

    Finally you said

    ‘If everyone sacked a manager because they were in the bottom 4 after 8 games then half the managers in the league would be sacked every year’ –

    actually that would be an improvement on our current predicament because we would be viying with ten other clubs and not just on our own as now.

    Hope your right about things turning aroundby xmas, cos if your wrong we will be in a whole load of trouble.

  14. Yes I think the “tenth” argument has been well sounded , apparently we didnt deserve it because obviously Bruce was our manager
    We are only 8 games into the season ; I give you the point about Bruce’s apparent lack of tactical awareness , when we go a goal down – but come on man – we did ok for 26 seconds against Arsenal
    Seriously as I wrote before I would gice it until Xmas – but I’m sure things will turn round before then
    If everyone sacked a manager because they were in the bottom 4 after 8 games then half the managers in the league would be sacked every year

  15. Well you are going to need a lot more of the drink and so will the rest of us if SB stays in place.

    Additionally, we did finish tenth and I needed a drink because it was totally unbeliavable – but we’ve been through this already have we not…..

    Basically Davey, it comes down to the same question – at what point do you decide enough is enough, how bad does it need to get, what sign of improvement is evident…. because bearing in mind we are fourth bottom we are cutting it very thin to reverse the damage.

  16. Davey,

    Your beginning to sound like the ‘let them eat cake’ crowd if you still can not see the light, its really quite simple, 1+1=2, SB’s managerial record= relegation.

    You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink, you can show a set of damaging statistics, but hey just turn it up side down and things don’t look so bad.

    Get in the real world, our expectations most certainly ain’t rising unless you see the Championship as a step up.

  17. Such cutting comments CSB , you really are sounding like “them up the road” – although so far this season , their policy of changing the manager every other month seems to be paying off . Perhaps our expectations are rising – if so – why not – we should be in a position to give any team a good match . However , I’m still leanin gon Bruce to turn it around by Xmas – if not do as you will with him !!!!!!

  18. I’m assuming that according to Davey I would be quite firmly established in the ‘Anti Bruce Brigade’ now formally shortened to ABB. However, I am also a very strong member of the Pro Sunderland Brigade who are and have been very worried for the last 12 months about one certain Mr Bruce’s performance as manager of SAFC and what particular road he is taking us all down.

    At least the refrences to ABB members being akin to ‘them up the road’ have ceased. Maybe it is time to generate a collective term for the currently shortsighted supporters who still insist, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary, that he is still the man for the job. As the ‘Flat Earth Society’ monniker has already been claimed, I suggest that that the Brucie love in crowd think more of their own untenable stance in the face of mounting unrest within the support.

  19. I have stuck with Bruce for a long time but have come to the conclusion that he is too set in his thinking. He is not proactive. He is not even reactive. It is like he has a two chapter coaching manual with pages missing. I was optimistic during the close season but his team selections and substitutions have been uninspiring.

    The one good thing that seems to have come about in the last two months is the departure of Gy£n and the arrival of Bendtner who seems a much more complete striker with a better work ethic. I suspect that if the team can turn things around in the next couple of games it will be because of the Dane’s ability to battle for and hold the ball in the opposition’s half. If this happens Bruce will take the credit and tell us all that all the squad needed was time but the Gy£n Bendtner situation was not a result of Bruce’s foresight.

    Also with Bramble suspended sine die we are left with only four experienced defenders and Angeleri who I suppose is still picking up his astronomical wages with no hope of making the squad. Should we have the misfortune to lose a couple to injury or suspension we’ll again end up with makeshift fullbacks in Richardson and Elmohamady.

    Having said that between now and Christmas the club should be looking at picking up a minimum of 18 points and with a winnable game against Everton on Boxing Day a target of 27 points by the turn of the year is not out of the question. I fear we will fall at least 6 or 7 points short of that, by which time it may well be too late.

  20. Good thoughts Malcolm – I still think the anti Bruce brigade are being too harsh – this time last year we only had 8 points ; who would replace him – I think O’Neill lost the plot at Villa and wouldn’t be my choice . I do get a bit worried though when Bruce and his coaches seem to be watching a totally different game to the rest of us . Ji looks like he knows where the goal is and deserves a chance , Elmo needs a spell on the bench and we certainly need to practise our shooting

  21. The fact that SB supported (and still supports) the dark side is irrelevant. He was a very competent defender in a very good side but has shown little flair in management. He’s better than some but limited in his ability. Despite that, as with Lee Clarke, I don’t believe he would ever give us anything less than 100%. The problem is his ability not his upbringing.

    I was pro Bruce to begin with but he shows no flair, no ingenuity, no individuality, no ability to adapt when his “best laid” (only) plan(s) go wrong. Supposedly he is a defender that his players can relate to but over the past year our defending has been dire. That is down to coaching and he should be in control of that.

    Even with B£nt in the team we rarely looked like a side who could break open defences at will. That is down to coaching and he should be in control of that.

    In midfield we play a lot of one/two touch passing moves that lead nowhere before giving the ball away. That is down to coaching and he should be in control of that.

    I’m not sure O’Neill is the answer. In my opinion the club should be looking at a younger, more innovative manager who can address the issues of ball retention, discipline and creativity with the squad we have. Bruce seems to have set ideas rather than an ability to set up for and adapt to differing circumstances.

    I try and take positives from every game and at least Colback and Cattermole got into positions where they missed goal scoring opportunities. At least we have had midfield players in goalscoring positions. Cold comfort at best.

  22. You are right Bill, that is the crux of the matter now. Even another couple of weeks could make a significant difference to our survival at the end of the season. I don’t understand this mantra of ‘leave it for another 2 games’. Why, just so we see it out till November? Bruce has been presiding over a failing team since last Christmas. He and others have blamed the striker problem for our woes-but the defence has conceded goals almost immediately in our last 2 games. I discounted the idea that because he supported the toon, he couldnt manage Sunderland. I now suspect there maybe something in it. He doesnt seem properly committed -I refer again to his joking with Rice at the end of the game. Other Premiership managers, after losing and with such an appalling start to the match, would have walked promptly off to discuss the game with the team in the dressing room. He lacks an appropriately professional attitude, but for some reason has charmed Niall and possibly Short.

  23. Arsenal Soapbox: time is running out, Steve – Time ran out for Steve several games ago and he is on borrowed time, unfortunately the borrowed time is from his successor who could well do with it to repair the horrendous botch Mr Bruce has made.

  24. get rid and now my message to board! Bruce quotes’ under the circumstances i think im doing an excellent job and fans should not get too over excited? What a plonker this bloke is stating that to supporters ive a feeling he is on some sort of medication!

  25. Ji may be no Dennis Tueart but the little playing time he’s been given, he’s at least had the ball in the back of the net a couple of times. Okay, yesterday’s was offside but at least he’s up there with the right attitude and giving it a good try. This team could use a little more of that.

  26. I usually say 10 games in is a good indicator of where you finish.Next 2 are now critical,must be Bruce’s last stands if we lose both games.

    We are a lot poorer a team than this time last year.Would agree with the Elmo criticism too,how many times did he run into a dead end?We are pretty poor across the board to be honest,with big gaps up front and flanks in particular.We did show a small improvement after our goal but it was short lived,not good enough against the poorest Arsenal side for decades

    With no chance of improving till January.We might grind out some results to keep Bruce in his job,but I fear he is always going to be playing “catch up” from now on in.How many here would expect a run of say 5 or 6 games unbeaten?.It does seem the dye is caste for a grim season, eeking out odd points here and there.Its not gonna put bums on seats.

    That said,I cant see another manager lifting this lot much higher.Phil Brown was seen in the Marriot Hotel at the weekend,we better be afraid…..very afraid.

  27. Hi Hilary
    you say ‘you think we will end up in deep trouble’
    I dont know who will take over but no one could mess up week after week like this. Sorry! Other than Butcher and Wilkinson.
    As you rightly say ‘Lets get rid now’

  28. When will we realize that we never have been and never will be at this rate the best team in the north east. Newcastles achievements this season have shown us up to be a poor team even though we finished above them last season which was more by luck than skill. Bruce Out!

    • “When will we realize that we never have been and never will be at this rate the best team in the north east.”

      I’d need a lot of persuading that “Gyan is sh*te”, the writer of the above, did not mean to say “you never have been …”

  29. Seeing Bruce quipping with Rice at the end of the game, made me wonder if he had assumed we would lose this one all along and was almost relieved that it was only by a goal. To concede such an goal in the manner of the previous week, makes me question what happens in training. The whole thing about ‘the lads needing to gel’ has made me wonder about their training schedule. They should certainly have gelled by now. There is no indication that his tactics have improved. He makes the same errors of judgement week after week. I dont see any point in leaving him for another 2 weeks. Whoever takes over needs to settle in etc If we leave this any longer I think we will end up in very deep trouble indeed.

  30. Thank you Monsieur Sixsmith – I think, though, that you are being a tad harsh on Wickham – until he gets more than the odd 5 or 10 minutes I don’t believe that it is possible to pass an objective judgement.

    Yesterday, for me, was yet another display of Bruce’s ineptitude.

    1) He starts the game with no, recognised forward.

    2) He was about to introduce Wickham when Larsson scored, so then changed his mind!

    3) When we badly needed a physical presence,up front to help retain possession and stop the ball coming back at our defence so frequently what does he do? He takes off Larsson and replaces him with a forward (Ji) who is told to play left wing!

    4) When he, finally, does throw Wickham into the fray it is at the expense of Sessegnon who (IMHO) had been one of our better players and the formation remains unchanged!

    5) He then (post match) waffles on about resilience and almost matched Harry Redknapp’s comment about Bent, when he said that “I’d be disappointed not to stick that in from three yards and I’m sure Lee will be tonight”.

    To me, that shows the guy’s true mindset, i.e. we start with a point and if we defend well we will leave with a point plus we might get lucky and score from a set piece!

    He has to go – the sooner the better before the decline becomes irreversible!

  31. The only imagination Steve Bruce seems to show is in his post match e-mails and even those are predictably predictable.

  32. Larsson has a broken toe. Suprised you don’t know this as it has been mentioned all over the place.
    Main issue was not geting Wickham or Ji on before Sess got tired. Take off Catts or Colback and then you have more options to hold the ball. As it was we gave away a lot of kicks (and cards…) in the last stages of the game.

  33. Might I just add ; I’m becoming increasingly concerned with Mignolet – he’s not inspring any confidence at all – didn’t even move for the first goal

  34. Great review . I have backed Bruce , but even I am bewildered by his substitutions yesterday . 2nd half we sat back too far , although it was inevitable Arsenal would put us under some pressure ; however taking off out best 2 players and leaving Elmo on , who was having a nightmare doesn’t make sense , Arsenal brought on a left full back who was there for the taking – and Elmo ran straight into him 3 times , he seems unable to do much except run in a straight line .
    Van Persie was excellent throughout , but the winner came from a totally unnecessary foul by Brown . Their keeper made a fantastic save from Catts , but how I wish he had headed the ball down , then Colback had a great chance too . As you say time is running out fro SB

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