Bruce in


Back to normal business – ie worrying about our own problems – we question the wisdom of clamouring for Steve Bruce’s dismissal but caution Sunderland AFC against taking future support for granted …

The man behind me, in row 31 of the East Stand, was calling for Steve Bruce’s head before the first half was over against Fulham.

In the second half, I heard – well, couldn’t fail to hear – him shout: “You’ve half an hour to save your job, Bruce.”

He didn’t see the half hour out. Ten minutes from the end of normal time, he was on his way.

In all honesty, you can’t blame him. He has spent money on his season or matchday ticket, made the effort to get to the game and been rewarded by yet another dollop of dross.

I remain in the “what’s the point?” camp when it comes to Bruce and his job. What precisely can be gained by sacking him and expecting someone else to make the same players do something from now to the end of the season that they haven’t done since that spell in November when we beat Arsenal at home and should have beaten Spurs away – play well for whole games?

Some side with my early-to-go fellow East Stand sufferer. At the Blackcats list, a man who initially gave Bruce staunch support dismissed my view, as echoed by someone else, that now was not the right time for a dramatic gesture: “People keep saying this, but if this isn’t the time to change things (ie when we are deep in the sh*** and look intent on getting relegated), then when is it?”

The question may be academic in any case, if The Daily Telegraph was right in reporting a “source” as suggesting the manager’s job was safe. “As long as Niall Quinn remains chairman, Steve Bruce’s job is very, very secure,” the source said.

“The deal with Ellis Short when Niall brought Steve to Sunderland last summer was that if they keep chopping and changing managers every five minutes they could end up where the likes of Leeds are now.

“Even if, God forbid, the club was relegated there is a plan in place for Steve to get the club back up to the Premier League like he did at Birmingham. There will be a budget for the Premier League and a contingency plan for the Championship.

“Niall will want to see this through and is determined to get this right but there is no way he will be knocked off course by one bad run of results.”

I am sure nothing should be read into the conditional “as long as Niall remains chairman”. But I am also sure that nothing should be read into the present level of attendances. They will slump if supporters are not quickly given real encouragement, and they will slump even more next season as people decide there are other ways of getting through the weekend.

Colin Randall

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6 thoughts on “Bruce in”

  1. The run has officially tested Salut! Sunderland’s patience too far.

    Nothing less than a win tomorrow night would now convince me that we should keep Bruce. Even a win, if unconvincing or followed by fewer than three points from the Man City and Brum games, will seem inadequate.

    As some Bolton wag – wag in the old fashioned sense – has asked at a more recent posting, how many millions have we spent this season becoming worse than rubbish?

  2. Why do people make this assertion that we are becoming a merry go round for managers?

    Only the good ones at any club don’t get sacked at some point. That’s the nature of the game. The only one that was sacked incorrectly (or prematurely) over the last 30 years was Allan Durban. Most of the others overstayed their welcome and should have been gone earlier. The same will doubtless be true of Bruce.

    If the time to sack a manager doesn’t come after a run like this then sacking him at any time becomes almost unjustifiable. How could a change be worse when the team can’t win.

    As for the other comment from Luke that “one season doesn’t make someone a bad manager,” I doubt whether that will be the democratically held view if we go down.

  3. Does keeping Wigan up and then, despite losing arguably their best player, taking them to 11th the next season constitute as “capable of showing he can turn it around”? If not I’m not sure what does.

    Bearing in mind he was pushing for Europe with Wigan until about the last 6 games, and everybody knew had Wigan qualified for Europe they’d probably have been worse off than finishing outside the top 6/7 due to their lack of squad depth and lack of resources to strengthen the team adequately to cope with the pressures of Europe.

    We will be a team better off for keeping Bruce. One season doesn’t reflect a managers ability, and he has taken some of the blame for certain areas himself. Maybe he brought in too many players and maybe he got rid of too many as well, but that just goes to show the state our team was in.

    Suppose we do get rid of him? Who do we then bring in to replace him? Is there actually anyone who would constitute an improvement over him? Probably not. It would just showcase our team to throw more money at a manager who may not get the job done and the managerial merry-go-round that Sunderland is becoming just continues on and on.

    Keep Bruce. I’m confident he will keep us up, I’m not certain but I am confident he will manage it. By sticking with him I’m reasonably assured that he will then improve us as a team and then show us gradual year on year improvement, let’s just hope the fans don’t have a “Europe or bust” mentality.

    In many ways we’re victims of our own early success. I said at the start of the season 11th-14th would be fine by me, bearing in mind we finished 16th last year, we were the fifth worst team in the league. It’s still an improvement, the gulf between a team that finished in 16th last season with a very poor squad and then finishing in the top half the next season is very difficult to overcome.

    We’ll stay up, and we’ll keep Bruce, and we’ll be better off for it.

  4. Neither Rome or Man Utd were built in a day? Were they in this much danger of relegation? (I know Rome isn’t a team, I’m being facetious) Everton, at the beginning of the season didn’t react? This isn’t the beginning of the season, this is the business end of the season where a bad run puts you down, not making qualifying for Europe harder.

    Can we also please remember that Bruce changed the defence voluntarily in at least 2 matches, bringing Nosworthy in (to blame for several goals) before dropping him again. Didn’t want Bruce in the summer, seen little to change my opinion: tactically inept, openly criticises individual players, constant excuses for bad form and apparently unable to motivate a team. Why would getting rid of Bruce be worse than keeping him, what evidence does anyone have that he is capable of changing things? Spurs were criticised for changing managers quickly, I’m sure they’re worried about it as they now fight for 4th place. There are lots of examples for and against changing a manager. I just wish people would stop using Man U as the great icon of stability, what were they actually in danger of? Not winning a trophy?

    Another Chairman, another broken promise of stability, from Murray, who we grew to despise, to Quinn, who is rapidly proving himself no great judge of managers. Both men promised much and have failed to deliver, yet one was villified while the other appears to be Teflon coated. I wonder why? Is the ability to throw money at bad managers all we ask of our chairmen? As opposed to being able to see what a good manger actually is: tactics, motivation and able to win; rather than being aware of what it means to be from the North East! I can do that, and I’m no manager.

    I really hope Bruce proves me wrong, but I suspect this debate will continue in the Championship.

  5. Everton, at the beginning of the season, blamed their very poor run on their massive injury list, and stuck by their manager (some clubs would of sacked Moyes – though Everton’s board arent ones for knee jerk reactions).

    Our injury list over the last 3 months has been just as bad if not worse, as Bruce has not been able to name a consistent team line up in any match.

    Our injury list has now improved, though we still have 2 influential midfielders out (Reid and Henderson), so I expect Bruce to steadily improve our run of form as the players bed in again and get used to a bit of stability.

    Rome was not built in a day, and neither was Man United. Mangers need time to build their own team, and get the right players in.

    Our midfield can provide the service to the forwards (as proved in the start of the season), Bruce just needs to get them ticking again.

  6. Getting rid of Bruce at this stage of the season would be risky and potentially ineffective in trying to cure this slump. Who would we get anyway. Bruce must be the best placed person to end this sorry run.

    However, what this run has indicated is that he, like Sbragia before him , is failing to garner any kind of passion, belief or tactical know how on the pitch.

    I regularly play ‘spot the game plan’ on match day as Sunderland’s dependence on long balls from the defence increases as the clock runs down. We give away possession far to easily and far to often. The front men are consistently chasing lost causes and Gordons kicking is horrendous as it rarely picks up the front two. Quite simply service to the fromt two from all sections of the park is poor, result equals no goals.

    Combine this with our defensive frailties and we are looking at a no win situation week in week out. the defence will I believe sort its self out in to a more cohesive unit. however the service from the middle of the park is an other issue. we don not have wide men and trying to play two ball winners in the middle with out a creative third man is resulting in balls being crossed in to the area (with questionable quality) form deep positions which only favours the opposition defence.

    We have two fast forwards so lets try to play through. The midfield needs to have better movement and retain possession better.

    This to me has been staring us in the face all season but game after game we come out and play the same way which is not working, is poor football and tactically naive. This is Bruce’s most damming failing is his apparent inability to change our style (sic) and tactical approach game after game.

    We have some good players spread throughout the team who we know can play significantly better than this, so why are we not.

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