Fans right to expect more
So the inevitable finally happened. Steve Bruce’s time in charge dragged on until the excuses ran out and we were humiliated at the bottom of the table Wigan.
Looking on Bruces’ time in charge it was anything but quiet and normal. Let’s get the bad stuff out of the way first. Bruce was too cautious when it came to new players both in the transfer market and then with good players coming through the ranks.
Take Gyan, when he first signed we needed a more attacking formation in a few games, noticeably the derby on Halloween. Instead he went one up front and we suffered. The same goes with Wickham, wrapped up in cotton wool, then when he plays he injures himself on a dent in the pitch!
Speaking of transfers, Bruce’s inability to keep hold of star players like Bent, Gyan, and Henderson cost us badly. We all understand that money can turn anyone’s head but Bruce had no strategy to change their minds. It will be one year in January since we had a permanent goal scoring threat!
Also (and this is the biggest issue for me) his tactics and squad selection let him down. So many times when it has mattered to the fans he has failed to deliver, especially against Newcastle and more so this season the poorer teams.
His choice to play one or even no strikers against teams we should be beating has lead me to think he was at one point intentionally trying to lose games.
Also leaving out players like Gardener and Ji when we needed them was criminal. They have proved they can be goal scorers yet Bruce has opted for the lesser players like Cattermole and Elmohamody, not to mention playing people out of position like Richardson and poor Sessegnon, who I dare say will leave in January if things stay this bad!
Finally his handling of the media was appalling. He seemed a straightforward honest man but after every game we’d get a different excuse and each one was as silly as the last. He even said it was fans expectations that were too high!
For a team supposedly capable of challenging for Europe, we are meant to be getting wins and three points off teams that are new to the league. It should be bread and butter yet to Bruce we expected too much?
The gem that sticks in my mind is after the Wigan defeat when he came out and said ‘we’re on the right track’. That made me lose what respect I had left for the man it was a sheer denial of his poor tactics. Now the fans are happy to see the back of him rather than fondly remember him for the good he did.
Speaking of the good there was definitely some. He was keen eye in the transfer market and bought in bargains like Westwood and Larsson. The home form of 2010 was also a joy. I enjoyed the top ten finish, leap-frogging the Mags on the last day, and the 3-0 win against Chelsea, but that’s about it.
So now what do we as fans expect from the new man coming in? Personally I just want this mess to be cleaned up so we finish strongly and save some face. But make no mistake we know how tough it will be for him. He has to get the team to play positive football and keep some of the talent we have already.
Who knows maybe we can squeeze a top ten place again? Luckily we will not have to suffer the trademark Bruce winter woes where for some reason we can’t win a game between December and early March.
Luckily for whoever is coming in they will be working with the best backroom team in the business. Short and co are fantastic and if they can support Bruce so well over the years I believe with a capable manager we can go far. I don’t want to get ahead of myself here but the prospect of Martin O’Neill or Mark Hughes added to a huge transfer kitty gives me goose bumps.
We can now look forward to going into games against the lower teams and beating them. We may even stay in the cup long enough to be knocked out by a team in the same division. Even derbies will be exciting again rather than the ‘surrender’ performances we have seen in the last few years. Whoever comes in I wish them luck and we the red and white army will be right behind them.