Bruce In: keeping the faith should also mean keeping perspective

Image: Mrs Logic


Liverpool 1 SAFC 1; SAFC 0 Newcastle Utd 1; Brighton & HA 1 SAFC 0; Swansea 0 SAFC 0

No one is going to pretend that Sunderland have got off to a flying start. Even Steve Bruce’s sternest critics here would accept that he has not tried to do so.

But it is still necessary to apply some kind of proportion to the opening results.

I expect a downbeat view on the performance and result from Liberty Stadium yesterday when Pete Sixsmith sends his Swansea Soapbox.

It is completely unnecessary for anyone to lecture me on the inadequacy of three games, in two cases against clubs promoted from the leagues beneath us, without a goal.

No reminders are needed about the glaring error made when Darren Bent was allowed to go without replacement. And all the say-it-until-he’s-blue-in-the-face Steve Bruce defences of that failure will never convince me it was other than a lamentable gamble.

But. There’s always a but. At the risk of being caught uncharacteristically with my glass half full, I am not – yet – as concerned or as angry as many.

The point at Anfield was a great point, as should have been evident on the day and has been made crystal clear by Liverpool’s form subsequently.

The derby defeat, woeful as it ultimately was, came despite our dominance of the game in the early stages and, on balance, throughout a first in which we admittedly enjoyed some rare refereeing good fortune.

The Carling Cup and Sunderland are two things that simply don’t get on; I am not persuaded Bruce
care as much about progress in that competition or in the FA Cup as we do. Maybe that will will change as he beds in his own squad, rooting out remaining unwanted relics of the ancien regime and starts to show what his own squad can achieve.

That leaves Swansea. Had we beaten Newcastle, a point in South Wales would have been just about acceptable, however much we feel we should win such games.

I repeat what I have said: the time to judge Bruce is not now, but one, two or more likely three months from now.

Yes, he was lucky in the end to obtain the owner’s desired 10th top finish last season, but it nevertheless stands as our best since the since the successive seventh top places in the Reid/Superkev/Quinn era.

No one would have given him the benefit of the doubt and said what rotten luck he’d suffered if we’d slipped, as was at one stage so easily possible, seven places or – perish the thought – worse below 10th.

Let us see what he can still pull out of the hat in the dying phase of the transfer window. Let us see how we fare against Chelsea and Stoke, both at home, and away to Norwich.

I realise that a disastrous run in all three games would hasten my own sense of anxiety and probably have me joining the mob demanding that Steve Bruce’s head should roll.

But for now, despite the derision I can expect from many fellow supporters, I am keeping both faith and perspective.

Monsieur Salut

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17 thoughts on “Bruce In: keeping the faith should also mean keeping perspective”

  1. The way modern football is developing it is becoming far more important to have scoring midfielders than scoring strikers. Nevertheless if Steve Bruce thinks we need more forwards then I’d back his judgement. We’ve hired Steve Bruce for his expertise in football. If he’s wanting to buy more forwards purely because of fan pressure then he’s a fool.

  2. Speaking of signing forwards, time is running short. And there’s another, what, £4 million in the kitty from selling Ferdinand to QPR? So… Crouch? Not looking entirely likely, given his antipathy for the northeast. Helmes? Even less so. Somebody? There must surely be SOMEbody…

  3. Yes Mr Bethell, it would be a shame if signed a forward or two. Us fans may have to suffer the indignity of watching a goal or two.

  4. I can’t quite match your 60 years Mr Hedley but I can manage 51. Most of what you say is perfectly correct of course but I simply come to a different conclusion. The manager knows far more about football than we do. No football manager should do things a certain way through fan pressure. Sadly there’s evidence this last couple of days that Steve Bruce is starting to do just that. And so the merry-go-round will continue

  5. That’s a superb post Mr Hedley. Sadly in today’s game there are more mercenaries than ever before.

  6. To Geoff Bethell

    I have been a fan of Sunderland for 60 years and along with our compatriots, from children to pensioners, it is “our” club, both by adoption, intellect and the way, good or bad, it seeps into your blood. Even those fans who in disgust “give up” still find it hard to stop themselves looking at the results either to confirm that they were right or sometimes, with a good run by the team, to be tempted back.

    The manager and the players are mercenaries, with a few exceptions, motivated by money or self aggrandisment. There are exception mostly with certain players when the team means as much to them as their lifestyle but these days they are few and far betweeen. We have been fortunate at Sunderland as we appear to engender loyalty in many of the clubs employees.

    As fans of the club we are not people going to a concert who vote with our feet if we don’t like the show, we are addicts who live and breath the club, garnering each shred of information about the team, or about the players, that we can.

    Those approaching my age or older know how blessed we are to have the internet instead of waiting, as I had to as a boy exile, for the Football Echo to arrive in the south of England, or Saudi Arabia, or the Phillipines or any othe other locations that my grandfather posted it to. Sometimes it took weeks to arrive but that was the only way we heard about the team.

    We have more right than any to praise, criticise, or even condemn the manager’s handling our our team than anyone and the combined footballing knowledge of the fans can often highlight aspects that tunnel vision managers sometimes forget.

    Good or bad we have every right to voice our opinions and as far as I am concerned long may it continue. Without it boards like Salut might be slightly less interesting to read

  7. You don’t get rid of a manager who has just been allowed to sign about 10 players. The next manager comes in, has different ideas, and then what? What is obvious is that Bruce has to be allowed to finish the job he started in the close season. Aiming vitriol at him really is not helping.

  8. Maynard of Bristol City anyone? Unproven at Prem level but I would think a better option than Crouch or Bendtner.

  9. I heard a football pundit saying, at the beginning of last season, “In the Premiership you are only as good as your strikers..”. How prophetic for us. At that time we had Bent, Welbeck, Gyan and a fit Campbell and I relished the season ahead.

    A year later we have undoubtably strengthened the squad in many areas, but we are only as good as our goal scorers and at present we only have attacking players not goal scorers. SB, the club and the supporters can all see the crucial weakness and it will be catastrophic for our season if we do not deal with it in the next three days.

  10. IMO It’s Gyan that we should be complaining about and not Bruce. If his finishing had been hall decent we would have beaten Newcastle and Swansea. He’s a luxury player we cannot afford to have in the team .Once we get a replacement he needs to be benched and unless he improves sold in the January window.

  11. Is this really Salut! Sunderland?? A refreshingly objective article containing common sense perspectives and posts. Nice one indeed. I can just imagine the negative brigade with their hands over their mouths, ingesting a sharp intake of breath, followed by a rampant panic attack after reading this (much needed) piece!
    Thank you for restoring a little decorum Colin.

    I think he needs two strikers – not just one. Gyan is a disgrace. I would drop him from the squad, let alone the team. His heart isn’t in it, he’s fat, slow and unmotivated, totally unworthy of wearing such a splendid shirt. Bruce said more than once that if nobody else came in he would be happy with what he’s done, and would be comfortable going into the season with the strikers he has at his disposal. He was obviously working on the premis that Gyan actually gave a shit!! I was gutted when he didn’t make a top striker a priority – he made a bad mistake.

    On that point, if, as the papers suggest, we’re in for Peter Crouch, I think that’s another bad mistake – he would be an expensive flop similar in disastrousness to Torre Andre Flo. He’s old, and past it and by no means worth the touted 10 million. Of the players linked, Cisse gets my vote.

    Peace – Out.

  12. If Bruce gets the striker(s) the press say he will get before the transfer window then yes he can literally buy himself some time.

    But the fact remains that he has had £24m since January and a further £16m since June and still hasn’t got a proven striker in.

    So, phase one is until the end of the transfer window. Phase two are the next three games, which need to yield 4 – 7 points.

    Then we may be much calmer/more agitated

  13. My criticism of Bruce has been well documented and if encapsulated in a nutshell it could be lack of foresight for the immediate future. He is clearly, with the purchase of untested youngsters planning for the more distant future.

    As with Salut I am not calling for his head, just expressing the view that this may be, for him and us, a gamble too far. Two seasons ago we had a horrendous experience with injuries yet this same problem destroyed a promising season the following year. No lesson had apparently been learned.

    Once Bent went it was clear that we had no prolific goalscorer and by the skin of our teeth our season was salvaged in the final short strokes. Nothing has been done to rectify that situation.

    Bardsley, of all our players, deserves a cap well and truly doffi to him, for resilience, commitment and a willingness, for the sake of the club, to continue to play, as far as he is concerned, out of his best position. Nothing has been done.

    I am old fashioned, it is an age thing, I like an out and out fleet footed winger. Our club has prospered with them in the past, a player who can slip past the defence to the bye line and swing in a cross, floating, not into the goalies hands but inching ever further away from them, to be met by a big centre forward with the smaller greyhounds from midfield snapping in his wake. They will be seeking layoffs or rebounds to terrorise the defence. Get that on both wings and you have for me the nearest thing to poetry on a football pitch creating exciting football. Nothing has been done about it.

    The reason that I am not on a sack Bruce band wagon is a sneaking hope that had our failure to score been a singular lack of chances I would have been spitting blood after all this expenditure. It is not the case, there has been, by premiership standards, a wealth of chances, just a failure to take them.

    We all new it would take time for the team to bed in, we all new that it would take Gyan time to regain fitness and we all knew that the kids will need to adjust. What we seem to have forgotten is the need to give the team time to settle. The goals will come but if we fail to secure the additional signings that we so obviously need and as a consequence fail to improve on last seasons place there is only one person’s gambles that are to blame

  14. Interested to see here the comment regarding Suarez’s ‘break’ after Richardson’s error – I was beginning to think that i was the only one who thought it could’ve been handball.
    Sack Bruce after three games in the PL? You also get rid of many of the coaching and other backroom staff who’ve been appointed in the last couple of years as the new man would want his own, not to mention players.
    Yes, we can go over and over the managerial decisions of recent months, but, overall, have we a stronger, more experienced squad or not?
    Now is not the time for changing the manager, he needs to be given time over the next few months and then Short and Quinn will make the decision. Up until then we need to support Bruce and the team.

  15. I still disagree with the view that Richardson should have been dismissed at Anfield.

    As I’ve previously posted, the law is very clear on this point and as Suarez was NOT heading towards the goal it was NOT a red card offence.

    This was also the view, for EXACTLY the reason stated, of Jeff Winter in his column last week.

  16. I ticked thumbs up because ifos puts the opposing argument well, making several points I acknowledge as right. I disagree with the conclusion, for the reasons summarised in my posting, but am as concerned as anyone that we begin to show results pretty much immediately.

    On the detail: both sides could have had a man sent off in the first half of SAFC v NUFC, admittedly also involving a likely goal for them, but we probably should have been one up by then anyway.
    We could also have had a penalty (second half foul on Richardson).
    I still think Dowd made an arguably correct (if lenient) decision, at Anfield having, on the other hand, missed the handball on the halfway line that gave Suarez his break.

    The key arguments against Bruce concern last January and what happened subsequently; I still wonder whether his hand was forced on Bent but it was a shambolic decision, punished by the long winless run and the relegation fears it aroused, whoever ordered it. But in the end, after some terrible bad luck with injuries that we cannot pin on him without better evidence than I’ve seen, he finally enjoyed some good fortune with the run-in. And delivered the owner’s 10th place. Three PL games later is not the time to forget that. Ten games in might be.

  17. Which point to take first?
    The admitted refereeing errors which allowed us to go in at half-time against the mags level, the error which allowed Richardson to stay on the pitch against Liverpool, the error that led to Carroll’s goal being disallowed.
    The error that was the gamble of finishing the season without a striker, and starting the new one in the same position, Bruce has had the end of the January window and the whole of this one to find a reploacement, but here we are with a couple of days left hoping to get a recognised stiker into the squad! Larsson, Garner, Vaughan, Whickham, etc all signed within days of the window opening and yet the most important piece of the jigsaw is last? The only possible explnation is that Bruce honestly believed that he had enough ‘firepower’ aleady, a mistake that on its own should be putting his position in question.
    Add to this his record of starting seasons well and then falling away afer Xmas at Birmingham, Wigan and with us, and yes, I’m worried, and yes, I’m angry at another season going to waste unnecessarily, at his platitudes and cliches after every poor performance, at his arrogant dismissal of fan’s fears as ‘hysteria’.
    The comment about the Caring Cup and his squad ‘bedding in’; this is his 3rd season in charge, this is his squad, he had to buy a new team after his team of loanees had to go back, another failed experiment? If this isn’t the time to judge him, when is?
    This isn’t about 3-4 games: this is about a season and a half of bad decisions, gambles gone wrong, shambolic substitutions and tactical ineptitude.

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