Colin Randall writes: on balance I would have preferred the post-St James’ Park inquest series to end on the relatively upbeat note – OK, non-suicidal note – struck by Malcolm Dawson yesterday (click here to see). But Steve Bruce is enough of a pro to have known calls for his head would inevitably follow such a disgrace as was witnessed on Sunday. Fans are split. Salut! Sunderland writers, as well as its readers, are probably split. Does he, as I believe, deserve to be judged on a longer period than 90 torrid minutes in Newcastle? Or is he a Kenwyne Jones blinder away from the sack? Lee Nichols*, writing here for the first time, was a doubter from the start …
If I say I’ve been having many an argument with fellow Sunderland AFC fans, it has probably been more of a tipsy debate sat in the pub.
Cast your mind back to last summer when we were scouring for a new manager. Sky Sports News brightly lit up my evening when it was announced that Roberto Mancini had accepted a contractual offer from Sunderland AFC to become their new manager. I was over the moon. An Italian manger, recently at the helm of Inter Milan was going to be the manager of my team, Sunderland.
This feeling of pure euphoria was quickly taken away when Niall Quinn released a statement saying that no form of contract had been offered to Roberto Mancini. It was plain untrue.
What happened here? How is it that can someone come out, with his agent, and tell the world he is going to manage Sunderland AFC without there being a shred of truth in it?
It was to get worse.
A few days later, speculation was rife that it was Steve Bruce who was going to take over the reigns. And this turned out to be true.
How can Niall Quinn come out and constantly get the fans hopes up by saying European football is close, we wouldn’t have long to wait? Well were going to have to wait a little bit longer now.
Steve Bruce. Who has Steve Bruce EVER taken to Europe? Has he ever got past the 4th round of the Carling Cup? I said at the start when he was employed that this is not the man to take SAFC forward.
And, not because of the drubbing we had at the weekend, I still stick by it. His tactics are negative. He plays so defensively he’ll be happy with a draw every week. I am getting sick of listening to him say “we can’t depend on Benty to get the goals”.
Well for starters, Steve, try playing two up top.
Try playing a £13 million pound Ballon d’Or nominated player with him, instead of Danny Welbeck.
Try playing Cristian Riveros instead of Cattermole. Try playing Mensah instead of Bramble.
These three players all warm the bench at SAFC, yet they were stars of the World Cup.
Unfortunately, we are going to get no goals from the midfield because three of the five midfielders sit back in their own half, just waiting for the opposing team to nick the ball, as they so often do, and run at them.
Things need to change, and quickly. I’ve lost belief in the man, but then I started off with very little in any case. So how much longer will it take before thousands of others have, too?
Football is a religion in the North East. It is my religion. Steve Bruce won’t have long to redeem himself. 48000 fans will have their say.
* Lee Nichols on Lee Nichols: ” … a fan since I can remember (thanks dad!). Season ticket holder up to 16 but had to give it up when I left for the Army. Now a civilian, I reside in Maidstone, Kent and get to pretty much all the London away games. Highlight so far has to be our the family holiday to Majorca in 1996. We pretty much spent the entire two weeks with the team through luck of sharing the same hotel and Michael Gray spotting me home shirt, but the one thought I will always remember is being in Linekers bar (granted I was only 10, I stuck to the orange juice….) And whilst me dad was propping up the bar with Steve Agnew, Phil Gray was busy chatting up me mam!_
** Pic of Steve Agnew, Phil Gray’s on-the-pull decoy, from A Love Supreme