The gents’ toilets in the East Stand is a pretty good place to test the post match feelings of those refined and cultured Red and Whites who frequent that august structure. After a famous victory, it is buzzing with laughter and joy. After a humiliating defeat it is a place of doom and gloom. After horrible games like Sundays, it is a place of almost sepulchral quiet.
Nobody had anything to say about a game that was so mind numbingly awful that the “highlights” on MOTD 2 would have been lucky to have lasted 30 seconds. There was just a general feeling, as we peed away, that Steve Bruce had done exactly the same with the good will that was extended to him on his appointment.
This was a truly awful performance. In the 15 point season, we knew the players were not good enough and last season we knew that there had been “issues” within the club.
But this year, we had a manager with plenty of Premier League experience, a proven goalscorer for the first time since Kevin Phillips and a squad that, although small, looked as good as any we have had since the closing years of the last century.
So, why did we turn in a performance so poor that The Northern Echo gave it one star, while Louise Taylor in The Guardian could not make one positive comment?
The buck does stop with Bruce and I would imagine that the chairman and the owner would have been having a sleepless night wherever they were. If Ellis Short had a fund manager who managed his funds as incompetently as Bruce appears to be managing this team, he would be packing up his gear in a cardboard box a la Lehman Brothers.
The poverty of the performance has been described by Colin while stuck in his seat on The Train That Went Nowhere. Let’s look at the options the management have now.
* Leave things as they are and assume that we can win three more games this season in order to stay up.
* Fire Bruce now and bring in Mark Hughes, Alan Curbishley or Peter Reid
* Hide under the bedclothes and pretend the whole thing is just a nightmare and that when they wake up, we will be a point above Birmingham City.
I have beaten the drum loudly for Bruce in the past. I really thought that this was a man who was fitted for this job. He had done well at Birmingham and Wigan, he had a good contacts book in South and Central America, he had an idea of how well this club could do. In short, he offered stability and a three or four year period when we could establish ourselves as a mid – table/top six Premier League club.
Instead, we have been dragged down yet again and the excuses of injuries and suspensions (not that that’s an excuse) no longer wash. We have no Plan B if Plan A fails – which it has done with regular monotony since the end of November.
Since then we have failed to beat anyone, have produced three successive performances of such stultifying boredom at home that an afternoon watching Rugby Union is preferable and we have seen players that we thought were valuable additions to our squad look as inept as anyone signed by Mick McCartney. Christian Bassilas looks a better player than Lorik Cana at the moment, while I can’t think of anyone who would prefer poor, forlorn Frazier Campbell to Liam Lawrence.
I can’t answer the question in the title because I don’t know. One win could relieve the tension, but where will it come from Lord only knows. However, I do know that my attachment to East Stand, Row 30, Seat 404 will not be extended if there is a relegation or unless I see some decent football between now and May.
Over to you Steve, Niall and Ellis.