Bruce in? The case against

A week ago, we were hard on those spouting doom and gloom on the strength of an iffy pre-season and a disappointing opening game. But then, after a dismal showing at West Brom (and there is no other sensible way of looking at it), a check on the games to come revealed us to be in a potential pickle. Ask today and we would not replace Steve Bruce. But there are those, eyeing a newly available chap with impeccable credentials from Villa Park, who would disagree. Let Mike Allcock*, a Sunderland fan now living in America, address the point made by Andy Nichol, a fellow subscriber to the Blackcats list: “Well if I was Ellis Short, I’d be inviting O’Neill to dinner over the next few weeks. Just in case, of course.” Salut! Sunderland awaits the opposing view …

Dinner with Martin would be a positive step.

Yes it’s early days for this season, but midterms time for Bruce. He’s made some good decisions as well as some poor ones; he’s far and away better than some of the sh*** we got used to in the late 80s/early 90s and compared with other Sunderland managers in recent years he has a pretty good record. I don’t think Steve Bruce is failing as a manager of SAFC.

However you have to put it in the context of what he, and the club, have publicly stated and measure his progress against the jointly stated aims.

He wasn’t hired on the basis that he’d be a little better than Ricky Sbragia. He was given funding and control to further consolidate SAFC’s position in the Premier; to build a team and a long term plan capable of taking Sunderland forward.

He’s responded by selling off some competent players and replacing them with players who while on their day are better, are often injured, suspended or have fallen out with him. His fabled foreign scouting system has turned out players either clearly not good enough or that he doesn’t fancy. Strengthening the spine of the team has been largely positive, yet Cattermole and Turner are constantly suspended,

Mensah often injured and Cana is gone. That leaves Bent who, while a good signing, really wasn’t too much of a risk and is tempered a little by the fact that he may end up costing the club £16 million.

Still good value, but a good bit of judgment rather than a miracle.

Added to this is an aversion to wide players, a love of playing players out of position and some baffling decisions (Kilgallon is the most obvious). Andy, speaking good sense as usual, mentioned the Bramble shopping trip, which in itself is alright I think but certainly not who he set out to buy.

Flogging our second highest scorer and then publicly courting a player who ends up going to Cardiff City is another example of this. Days after a pronouncement about Cattermole needing to learn both on and off the pitch more too; opinions may differ on his effectiveness but I think we’re all agreed that if you’re looking to curtail disciplinary problems and set examples then Craig Bellamy is not going to be your first choice signing.

I think Mr Short and Mr Quinn have been shortchanged, again, Steve Bruce is certainly not a failure as a manager.

But he has failed to meet the aims of the people who hired him and the floundering is increasing with every change he makes. It’s not crisis time, but potential replacements like Martin O’Neill are not on the market every day.

Having lunch with him now would be a smart thing to do. If nothing else, Ellis short can learn from Steve Bruce that making tough decisions without a backup plan in place is not always a wise thing to do.

* Mike Allcock is, on his own account, “actually in what could be broadly termed the Appalachians though it’s probably clearer to just say Pittsburgh, PA (as that’s where I work, even though we live a little out of the city, in West Virginia).

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9 thoughts on “Bruce in? The case against”

  1. In response to Keith Hutton, while I agree a panic attack after 2 games may be an over-reaction, I also think that to claim Bruce is doing a great job is no less an over-reaction. ‘Poor preparation’ is hardly a comment that goes hand in hand with a great job. He’s had a year to ‘put his ideas into practice’, and if he still hasn’t then he certainly isn’t doing a great job. He’s a manager who was never realistically going to take the club to any great heights, his track record suggests little above average, and if people think keeping Wigan in the PL was great and that’ll carry into taking a bigger club forward, think Curbishley and Charlton. Maybe the great job of helping Wigan survive is his level, and moving into the European challenging places is just a little beyond him. I hope not, but I am worried about how this season is going to develop.

  2. A Panic attack after two games is a serious over reaction. Bruce is doing a great job at the Club and needs time to put his ideas into practise. The World Cup upset the pre season build up as well as the transfer market with many of the best players on extended leave. Bruce however managed to bring in Riveros, before the world cup which was shrewd to say the least, the fact that the 3 promoted clubs have managed to pull off “upsets” stands testimony to this, with no or few internationals in their team they have been able to get their heads down and prepare correctly, the Mags beating Villa was an absolute fluke and if they can maintain that they will win the league which they obviously won’t. The same is true in reverse poor preparation has lead to a lack of cohesion in the team and this will be put right in the coming weeks. Think stability and a sensible approach and don’t go manager hunting every time someone we believe is better becomes available. HAVE FAITH

  3. I would not argue with Jeremy’s succinct analysis of deficiencies, but we should not forget that SB inherited a squad that survived relegation on the last game of the season. Progress had been made, but not enough to guarantee security in the Prem. We must have moved on last season under SB when we all felt bitterly disappointed with 13th, a few points outside the top half. I doubt if SB has spent more than 5m in this window – so far; the signs are that at least one more signing is yet to be made. Onuoha and Bramble look like good defenders, and Riveros and Mensah are quality additions. We shall have to wait to see if Elmohamady, Mignolet and Angeleri provide the strength in depth that good Prem clubs need. I fully expect us to sign a striker in the next week and to see performances improve over the next 10 games as players settle in.

  4. If there’s a problem with SB, it’s his tendency to accept good offers for players regardless of the position it puts him in. That’s a dicey game to play if there’s not an immediate replacement lined up. In the case of Jones he maybe knew that another offer of 8m wasn’t coming any time soon, so took Stoke’s money.

    The problems we have at present are glaringly obvious. Not enough fire power, lack of creativity in midfield and the absence of a calm and collected head between the posts. Sounds simple when you put it like that. There’s also the obsession with collecting centre halves. There’s a bloke who lives near me that has a similar obesession with antique tractors. Looking on the bright side, at least Mrs Bruce hasn’t had to contend with Ferdinand and Da Silva parked in the back garden.

  5. Its fair to say I am suprised at the dealings this summer – not because of Bruce but because of Niall allowing what has gone on to go on. He has probably given Bruce to much to play with – freedom to do what he likes and the cash to do it. At his previous clubs, there was a tighter grip which Bruce bemoaned but probably made hime better.

    The squad which he took over wasn’t a shambles, its just that we wan’t getting the best from them all, which I thought was the reason that Niall chose Bruce – to gt the best from them and add in a couple of astute signings.

    Instead, he has ripped the squad apart and brought in his own players which are rarely better than what we had / have. I dont understand some of the decisions – Niall talked about how the club didn’t sell Phillips when we should have and turned down £15m and what a mistake that was; yet we then turn down a sizable offer from Spurs from Jones (£12 TO £15m), then increased his pay and new contract only to sell him 6 months later for £8million and alledgelly paying him (anything upto £2 million) to leave, especially when we dont have a suitable replacement.

    I cant see how DeSilva, Killgallon or Bramble are thought to be better than Ferdinand and Bruce thinks its OK to not give him a number and play the reserves in hope we can loan him out and probably pay his wages! I can go on and on about Bruce’s transfer dealings all night! We have signed more players this summer than any other Prem team – including the new boys and big spending City and I dont believe we have a better squad than when Bruce took over.

    I fear this season we will suffer form second season syndrome (not for SAFC but is for Bruce) which is often a result of too many changes in club personnel and key tatics / players being snuffed out, which I think will be the case for Bent this season.

    I remain the optimist however and hope Bruce can prove me wrong and get us safely into the top half early and keep us there, but worry this wont be the case. As for O’Neil, I think he will still be available in December and therefore if we are struggling could be the time to bring him in.

  6. I would love to see MON at Sunderland! I dont think any club in Europe would complain if he was appointed as gaffer however, he would want to build his own team so the cost of the move would be ridiculous (taking into consideration what has already been spent). I think we MUST give SB time and to get things right. It’s his team now so he has no excuses. Every SAFC fan wants to see our team doing well and of course, being the top dogs in the north east but I think we need to be simply happy with the fact we are in the big league and hopefully here to stop.

  7. Too early to talk of losing SB. We would have won against Birmingham if Cattermole had stayed on. We were all over them. It will be interesting to see how we play agianst ManCity on Sunday. I think when Gordon comes back we will be a bit more confident. Mingolet in goal looks a little bit underconfident (and I( don’t blame him, – its in at the deep end) but that transmits to your back four and then to the rest of the team.
    Riveros will take time to settle in and Elmo too. With Turner, Catts and Ried back and Mensah returning we should be OK. I’d like to have NZogbia but don’t know of another proven striker we could sign?

  8. Confidence is a key component in successful teams. Loss of confidence results in poor decision-making and a lack of cohesion at all levels. SB needs to work from a position of strength in which he is trusted to get on with the job of building a successful team. Two games into a new season is not the time to be lining up potential managerial replacements. I think some of his recent decisions do indicate signs of anxiety, e.g. Angeleri signing, selling of Jones without a replacement lined up, and his public criticism of the players after the West Brom game. The fact is that it takes time for a team to gel and styles of play, appropriate to their ability, to emerge. Angeleri may yet come through, Jones needed to be moved on, and there is still time to sign a striker and N’Zogbia. This will be another season of building so let’s give SB our support to get on with it. Top ten here we come.

  9. Messrs Quinn, Short and all supporters have certainly been short changed by Steve Bruce. We were excited when he promised us 2 or 3 quality signings. So far he has brought in 7, who are no better than what we had. Ironically Bramble is the only one to impress. The sales of KJ and Fulop have left us seriously exposed in those positions. Whilst we are only 2 games in alarm bells could be ringing after Sunday — hopefully not. Steve Bruce has a lot to prove and quality replacements are few and far between. M O’N is supposedly a S’Land fan. Could he be tempted??

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