Bruce in: the case for

Steve Bruce is a a tough old pro who would have expected a start to the season as disappointing as ours to raise concerns. “I think we’ve won five out of the last 26 games,” someone wrote. “How many clubs would put up with a record like that, never mind PL clubs?” We’ve given you the case against sticking with Bruce; here’s the balancing argument. Jeremy Robson hardly offers ringing endorsement, but feels it is far too early to start baying for blood …


The first
real murmurings of discontent about Steve Bruce’s management have started to rumble.

Arguably we should have gone into this season expecting to take at least four points from the first two fixtures, three points against Birmingham and at worst a point at the Hawthorns.

But these two results need to be examined from a different perspective. We would have won the opener had it not been for Clatter ‘em all’s stupid behaviour/overzealous refereeing (depending on where you stand).

And we would have had a point against the Baggies had it not been for the fact that they’ve come back into the PL with a much stronger side than they could boast in any of their last four forays into the top flight.

Criticism has rained down on Bruce for his transfer dealings. Cana’s departure was unexpected, and Jones was sold to Stoke without a replacement being lined up.

However, the loss of Jones is reminiscent of Danny Collins’s transfer some 12 months earlier. Good money was offered for Collins and also for Jones. It’s quite likely that the incoming fees in each case would not have been offered again any time soon. Jones had a reasonable goals record, but had frustrated many fans as well as his manager for just a little too long.

That said, the transfer window is still open for a little while longer and it’s nothing short of imperative that Bruce brings in someone with a proven track record of scoring regularly in this division.

Campbell, Welbeck, and Waghorn do not have such a record so placing that expectation on any of these young shoulders is premature and foolish.

I remain far from convinced about the merits of developing youngsters from other clubs in the same division (as is the case with Welbeck), as any benefits will be short lived. You can’t build your house with your neighbour’s bricks.

But Bruce has the opportunity and presumably the cash to bring in the sort of players that will plug the gaps in midfield and up front (if not at left back). Failure to do this will add fuel to the fire of those who feel that the job is beyond him.

Defeat against Man City or even worse against Colchester in the League Cup will crank up the volume for those who want him out.

Yet two games into the season is no time to be thinking about dispensing with the manager.

I didn’t regard the performance against the Baggies as being as bad as a lot of our fans think. That’s maybe down to low expectation and increasing middle age, but Bramble was one of our best players on display (Bruce said that he’d turn out good), Onuoha looks a good solid and versatile defender, and the undoubted ability of Cristian Riveros will be a huge asset as the season progresses and he adjusts to the English game.

There are certainly question marks over the “Egyptian Beckham” who looked more like the “Egyptian Tommy Miller” at the Hawthorns, demonstrating an ability to remain on the field but completely disappear from view. It’s early days for this lad too.

Angeleri, the other close season signing has yet to appear, and the likes of Gordon, Reid, Turner, the immense John Mensah and Clatter ‘em all will be available for selection sooner or later. There’s more than half a team there!

Steve Bruce is no fool. He knows that he has to improve this side, and if he fails to do that in the remaining days of the transfer window then I might be joining the ranks of discontented too.

But not just yet, eh?

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10 thoughts on “Bruce in: the case for”

  1. Argus; He’s a very promising keeper mate. We had clubs wanting to take him into their academies when he was only six years old (before he came out here). Definitely hoping for a Monty rather than a Hesford or a McDonough! His team are currently top of the league with two games left. He’s still Sunderland daft and the kit in the picture has now been replaced with the current one.

    Bill, my point about the Baggies is nothing to do with the players perceptions of the Baggies. Well, not necessarily anyway. They’ve come back up with what looks to me like a much better side than they’ve had before. When the lad on “Who are you?” was talking about Bednar starting I thought here we go again. Bednar would have started had it not been for Odemwingie signing on Friday. They were a lot better than I expected, that’s all.

  2. I agree that it’s too early to think seriously about replacing Bruce. But it couldn’t hurt to have a friendly lunch with O’Neill…
    For good or ill, what we have is finally Bruce’s own team; not something he inherited (which is the situation we’d have if O’Neill, or anyone else, came aboard) and he has to be given some time to make it work. Nor should we be making comparisons with that flash-in-the-pan goal blitz from St. James’ Park.
    So I’m on-side with Jeremy here, though one thing he says worries me: “And we would have had a point against the Baggies had it not been for the fact that they’ve come back into the PL with a much stronger side than they could boast in any of their last four forays into the top flight.”
    That’s akin to saying we could hammer Chelsea if they didn’t field their strongest players. We have to go into games expecting strong opposition, even from hitherto-lowly sides. I think that’s where we fall down sometimes. We expect a cakewalk and when we find ourselves in a battle instead, we panic to regroup and then fall apart. That’s why we had some of our best results last season against the strongest teams — we went in fully aware that we were in for a donnybrook. I don’t mean to keep harping on about Blackpool but we’d better approach our games against them with that attitude or they’ll kick our backsides. They may be new to the Premiership and they may be weak on paper. But they know how to fight.
    The BBC website is quoting Bent as saying Bruce really needs to make a couple more wise purchases before the window closes. I don’t know who’s available — Crouch, in spite of the rumours, apparently isn’t — but I hope SB is listening.
    Colin: As you’ll see, I did manage to get on here again. I guess if the “error” messages continue, I’ll just ignore them and try again a few minutes later. That seems to work.

  3. I presumed from your moniker that you would have either a receding hairline or very little on the top. Having now seen your picture I can see that your name is very well earned on both counts!!

    Good to see you are bringing up your lad in the great tradition of SAFC. I bet his mates are sooooo jealous!

    Could he turn out to be another Monty or will he be more like Hesford!!

  4. The young lad in the picture incidentally is my 8 year old son who plays in goal for Guelph U9 boys in the SWRSL League here in Ontario. His team is top of the division with two games left to play. Our season runs from May to Sept as it’s impossible to play outdoors in the winter months. Seen here proudly sporting his Sunderland kit at a recent tournament in Grimsby where they lost to a golden goal in the final against a strong side from Port Erie.

  5. Pete (H). I can’t quite express how wonderful it was to see your post mate. They always used to say that people turned out looking like their dogs, but we’ve just turned out looking like the Clock Stand Paddock I reckon. Great to see that your enthusiasm and cynicism remain undiminished. Haven’t you started to look like us yet?

  6. Jeremy, you are becoming a Sixer lookalike. I had to look at the photo a few times to spot the difference, his beard is slightly more Dick Van Dyck than yours. My weary view is that you could have a manager with a winning pedigree and a squad of world cup winners, however, wrap them up in Sunderland colours and they would produce the same frustrating performances that you and I and many others have endured this last fifty something years. It is not time for change, this is now Steve Bruces’ team and he should be judged on the results of this season, which hopefully will improve. 6-0 from that lot up the road didn’t help, but that will soon be rectified!!

  7. Why is it that Sunderland fans are always asked to wait until new players bed in as in your article regarding “The Eygptian Beckham”. Other teams seem to buy players who hit the ground running like Odemwingie on Saturday.

  8. It would as I have stated be unreasonable to say Bruce is making a pig’s ear of the Club. Mistakes have been made but the disruption in preparation caused by the WC is undeniable. The purchases over the break may or may not be inspired time will tell. “The Eygptian Beckham” really if you want to be ridiculed I can’t think of an easier way to achieve it, but he will need time to adjust, Bramble will prove to be a good buy as will Riveros. I agree with the belief that developing player for other clubs is not the best option, but it can help to stabilise as long as they can be replaced when they return to their clubs, point in question, Johnny Evans got us promoted but when he returned left us short and Keane frustrated. Stay with the programme and see it through to its ultimate happy ending

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