The Lars Word: sorry Steve Bruce and Hull, we’ll have last laugh

As seen by Jake
As seen by Jake

Tempting providence or not, Lars Knutsen feels Steve Bruce may be left with egg on his Newcastle-supporting, Sunderland-phobic face after missing a fair few grand opportunities to shut up with his whining …

It would be a huge understatement to say that this has been an eventful couple of years at our beloved Sunderland Association Football Club.

First, the manager’s office door has been revolving so much that one could rightly be concerned about the state of its hinges, and the regular changes of corporate structure, management and coaches have been overwhelming at times. And amid those changes, the legend that is Niall Quinn left us.

Secondly, we have also experienced a phenomenal turnover of players since Roy Keane walked in the door and took us to our last promotion in 2007.

During such existential strain and stress, it is tempting to live in the past, reliving the story of a club that has won six league championships and the FA Cup twice, has been in numerous semi-finals but was last in an FA Cup Final in 1992.

In our minds as fans, success should not be just measured by staying in the Premier League, but by actually winning something. Our excellent revival under Gus Poyet has given the club real Carling Cup hope against a faltering Chelsea eight days before Christmas. Three wins have led to hope that the SSOL is becoming a stronghold again.

We have an American owner who will give managers time as long as there is a level of success and a plan to move the club forward. The US from my own experience is a land of “hire and fire” but I respect Ellis Short for backing his managers until situations become untenable. Some, notably the last three, have let him down badly and not shown serious hope of bringing the club to where it should be. Otherwise they would still be with us, instead of moaning in the media …

I have been horrified by the recent statements, and the apparent huge egos of Steve Bruce and Martin O’Neill, both of whom let Sunderland down desperately yet seem to look at their times at the club through rose-tinted spectacles.

Steve Bruce was outspoken against the Black Cats ahead of the incident-packed game at Hull. He said it was “arguably a mistake” to have taken the Sunderland job. Well, who made that mistake? (

As I posted on Salut’s Facebook page, this is disingenuous by Bruce, blaming some of the failures of his time at Sunderland on the fact he is a Geordie. It did not stop Bob Stokoe. In fact, Bruce’s words are almost as extreme as those of Howard Wilkinson after his 2003 sacking, the Yorkshireman having won all of four of 27 games.

What about the handling of Asamoah Gyan and Darren Bent, the sale of Jordan Henderson and the long winless runs fans had to endure? It is true he took us to the top six for a while, and we do not know what went on behind the office door, but to be honest Bruce’s last year in charge was pretty awful. His final summer in Sunderland was spent rebuilding the side, but the process was ultimately shown to be a failure.

What Bruce conveniently ignored was the way he recruited but failed to motivate some of the attacking stars at the Stadium of Light. Bent was signed and made a great start with 24 goals in his first full season. But he did not have a consistent partner upfront and when the team did play particularly well, such as in the 3-0 rout of Chelsea at the Bridge, “goalhanger” Bent did not feature.

When Asamoah Gyan was signed, the resident top scorer seemed put out, even though we reached a post-Peter Reid high point of sixth in the league after that Chelsea win three years ago. Bruce’s handling of these stars was suspect as Bent soon left acrimoniously to Aston Villa, only for his career ultimately to slump dramatically to where it is now, trying and failing to blend with Berbatov at Craven Cottage.

So Bruce had his moments but when Gyan went AWOL to the Middle East and, along with injuries, it meant we effectively had no strikers for the 2011 run in. We struggled badly and were only safe after local hero Jordan Henderson scored a brace against Wigan. Our 10th place finish hid a lot of errors; a winless run of nine games, featuring eight defeats from early February to April 16 left supporters understandably anxious at the end of the season.

Bruce is a self-confessed Geordie, born in Corbridge (but on which side of the river I often wonder? County Durham would have been fine!). But in the face of success, that particular lapse of birth would have been forgiven, in the same way as it wasn’t an issue for Stokoe, Pop Robson, Bob Moncur, Ron Guthrie or others. It did eventually emerge as a problem for Lee Clark, but only because like Bruce, he made it into one.

I must admit to a loss of respect for the former United stopper who has been bleating constantly since leaving the club.

If he just admitted that his handling of Bent, Gyan, Henderson, Muntari and Zenden undid him and that he has learned from those tough times, rather than saying he was not accepted because of an accident of birth, we would look at his time with us more favourably.

So we are happy to let Bruce manage a club in a Rugby League town, struggling to get over 22,000 for a home game, and to provide a home to our former players and have his deluded view of his time at the SSOL. I predict now that we will finish above Hull City Tigers or whatever they are called today.

Just don’t get me started on Martin O’Neill…

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23 thoughts on “The Lars Word: sorry Steve Bruce and Hull, we’ll have last laugh”

  1. William. It seems to me that “Brucie” has become the McMenemy of the 2000s playing up to the genial Geordie role with some aplomb. He’s almost claiming that he was sacked for this “geniality” when as you say his teams, performance and results were pure dog pump.

    Even those who didn’t participate in the “FGB get out of our club!” routine at the time are finding his attitude extremely grating and there are some I am sure who would like to “genially” shake him warmly by the throat.

  2. I’ll soon be putting a piece together how SAFC has been largely ignored by the media over the years.

    Having high-profile managers such as Roy Keane, SB, Martin O’Neill and Paulo Di Canio on board has increased the club’s profile, although not always for the best reasons.

    I’d rather be talking about football in this context, and we all want to have a long-term, successful manager. I see your point about Brucie being on his way to being a “national treasure”.

    I left out some of the more flowery language used by my footballing friends who found very original ways of insulting the guy. I just hope he reads some of this about his real record at the football club and I will feel much more like wishing him well if he stops insulting the Black Cats.

  3. Amongst certain media pundits, particuarly on ” Talk Sport “, Bruce is a bit of a national treasure – always referred to as ” Brucie ” I’ve noticed.
    Accordingly, there was a lot of sympathy for him when he was sacked, and a quite bizarre lack of recognition of the mess he had managed to get us in.
    I’ve heard these same pundits talk about other managers being ” under pressure ” after a couple of defeats [ recently Pardew and Jol ] whereas Bruce was apparently unfairly dismissed, dispite appalling results, whilst playing some of the worst football I’ve ever seen.
    I think this ” luvvie ” status that SB enjoys in the media has tended to pander to his ” because I’m a geordie ” line, and I really think he should take a long, hard look at his overall performance at the SOL if he wishes to correctly identify the reason for his demise.

  4. Nothing against Hull as a team or their fans. I don’t care that a couple of enraged fans have posted on here, I would do the same if a Sunderland baiting article had appeared on a Hull site.Lars our problem is with Bruce not Hull and we probably agree,when Bruce leaves Hull either by choice or not , it won’t be he’s fault. Nothing ever is, the man is perfect and he certainly doesn’t harbour grudges or live in the past.

  5. “Love his last paragraph about RL town. In reality, the attendances of both RL teams added together don’t get close to Hull City. As for a town, Hull is well established as a City as opposed to the ‘City of Sunderland’, 1992”

    Mmmnn…………you really are a sorry case aren’t you Jules.
    Sunderland 1992 eh? Largest city between Leeds and Edinburgh I think you will find, and was before it was even a city. I’ve nothing against Hull and your club but you lot are really riding for an almighty crash coming your way in no time at all. Enjoy what’s left of your season. The Championship is where you belong. You’d think you’d have learned a lesson or two since Phil Brown started doing Beach Boys covers on the pitch.

    You lot are spouting a lot of tosh at the moment but come the end of the season you’re going to feel completely embarrassed by it, if you have any sense at all that is.

  6. I always has a soft spot for Hull but it seems that their manager’s extraordinary lack of humility has turned into something of a plague.

    See where you are in May. I’ve a pretty good idea right now. Enjoy the winter Tigers for you’ll soon not have to travel to the NE. Barnsley is about as far as you’ll need to venture come late summer.

  7. I was trying to give Steve Bruce credit for what he did achieve at Sunderland, getting to 6th, winning at Chelsea, etc., but unlike Martin O’Neill, he did take us into the bottom three, albeit briefly. But I am arguing with facts, not emotion.

    Hull’s Chairman is thinking of changing the name of the club, and I apologise, Hull is a City, as well as Yorkshire’s top team.

    This sort of banter this site is about! I did actually like the way Bruce called Cattermole “a competitor”. Maybe his next signing from SAFC;s ranks?

  8. we struggle to get more than 22000 because …….that’s how many seats we have which kind of limits the crowd. Having only been to the stadium of light the once my knowledge is restricted to seeing wide expanses of empty red plastic seats on match of the day. But lets not get into “my crowds bigger than your crowd”lets just agree we are small but perfectly formed. We are enjoying our season and we like and admire our manager. While you’re not at the moment.
    But enjoy the thrill of trying to avoid the drop

    • KC stadium capacity is 25,586 (source
      You’ve regularly topped 24,000 this season, which suggests you’re playing nearly to capacity.

      Your highest attendance so far is 24,677, when you played Sunderland.

      I wonder what your attendance will average at the end of the season and whether or not the stadium will be expanded in the future – it could be increased to 30,000

      Wide expanses of red seats at the SOL could be because MOTD often showed the away end until it was moved.

      Keep enjoying your season,

      • That’s it John, empty seats or not our average is 40,000 +, but anyway were starting to sound like deluded geordies here. A bit like Bruce!

    • Lets see if you still like your manager when you don’t win for 3 months cos that’s what’s gonna happen.
      And next season if you haven’t sacked him by then he’ll do it all again for you !!

  9. Nice to see comments from Hull.

    M Salut is away from the keyboard for a couple of days. Malcolm and I will do what we can to ensure a quick turnaround but please be aware your comment may be held for moderation if you have not posted on this site previously.

  10. The above article smacks to me of a man with a chip on his shoulder coupled with a little bit of sour grapes after his dirty team got the due deserts at the kc. I have not seen anyone better than Bruce at sundland since he left so perhaps he was not as bad as made out ! As for finishing above us I do not think so

  11. You need to be careful what you say it might come back and bite you, concentrate on Sunderland as opposed to wanting other teams to fail. As for Gus you make him out to be some sort of hero. I will reserve my judgement till the end of the season

  12. Bitter or what ! you are a little town and will never be looked on as anything but…move on we dont give a stuff about you..cant see you for newcastle shade anyhow..We are a City however and not sure what your rugby dig is about we enjoy more sport then you…enjoy orient next season lmfao

  13. I actually liked SB and think he would have done a good job if Bent and Gyan hadn’t stuck the boot in and left. Although why he allowed Gyan to leave is beyond me. I think his argument was that if a player doesn’t want to be there then there’s no point. But I’d say, let Gyan get over his sulk and buckle down. We lost two very big players and thats what did him in.

    The 5-1 at Ncle was a big nail in his coffin too.

    • Ian – we go back a long way in terms of writing about our club, I appreciate the sensible input.

      When SB was fired by Ellis Short, it was because of his whole last year in charge. He sold Bent and Henderson for around £40 tM, and signed a whole new team in the summer of 2011. A number of these players were from relegated clubs, so a losing mentality persisted. Along with a lack of talented strikers, the team was “Short” on results, so our owner pulled the plug on Bruce.

      I also liked SB but I have lost respect after all he has said. Results always tell the true story in football, and 29 wins out of 98 games was simply not good enough. End of story….

      • Thanks Lars. I think that up until Bent left, Bruce had a very decent record, but post Bent/Gyan the results suffered. Simply because our strike force was decimated.

        My point was that Bent put the boot in and Bruce didn’t have time to replace him. I think any club would have sold Bent for £20m and Henderson for £15m if offered. And Bent wanted out. Probably the chairman/owner had a big say in what happened too.

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