The Sunday Supplement
Can Steve Bruce be blamed for the problems at Newcastle? Or has he inherited them? The Sunday Supplement panel discuss ahead of Newcastle’s trip to Tottenham on Sunday, live on Sky Sports. Bruce replaced Rafa Benitez in the summer, although his arrival was not welcomed by Newcastle fans who continue to battle against owner Mike Ashley. The tension surrounding St James’ Park has been reflected on the pitch, with Newcastle losing their opening two Premier League games. Their performance against Norwich last weekend was particularly poor. But with so many problems at Newcastle, can Bruce be included as part of the problem? Or has he taken merely taken on long-standing issues? The Sunday Supplement panel have given their views… Daily Mail Football Editor Ian Ladyman: “The issue with Newcastle is very simple – Benitez, in his own way, managed to essentially keep a Championship group of footballers in the Premier League for two seasons, which was a terrific achievement. He did it his own way, he’s a very clever coach and very clever person and he got the job done. “Whoever came in after him was going to find a dressing room short on quality, despite the fact they spent money on [Miguel] Almiron last season and spent big on a centre-forward [Joelinton] over the summer. “Generally speaking, it’s a very workaday group of players and whoever came in after Rafa was going to have to prove themselves as astute as him, not in the same way, but to find a way of getting 20 per cent more out of players than they’ve got to give. Steve Bruce is the one to do that and it’s going to be a very long season for him indeed. “As a group of people and a group of individuals, I don’t think it’s the worst dressing room in the world. I actually think they’ve got some good lads in there, who over the last couple of seasons, were prepared to do what was necessary to stay up. I don’t think it’s mentality or personality that’s the issue, I just don’t think they’re good enough.” The Telegraph’s Chief Football Writer Sam Wallace: “Steve Bruce knew what he was getting into – Newcastle was no secret. I know that football is a ruthless business and everyone wants more money and a bigger club, but he knew what he was getting into. “It may sound harsh but he was the unpopular choice of an unpopular owner. He was starting behind the eight ball and sure enough, he’s lost his first two games and the fans are not happy. “Everyone in English football knows what the story is at Newcastle and I don’t understand the thinking of going from a job where he was really wanted [at Sheffield Wednesday] to a club that have just lost their most popular manager. Even now, I don’t understand what he thought it was going to be like. These managers always back themselves, but it is such an unhappy place and there is absolutely no room for error with the fans.” The Mirror’s Chief Football Writer John Cross: “I feel sorry for Steve Bruce in many ways. It was his decision [to join Newcastle] and part of that was driven by emotion. He is a Geordie and it’s his dream job. In football, we are often governed by fairy tales and Bruce wanted that opportunity. “It is a very difficult setup and ultimately, despite Bruce down the years proving himself as a very capable manager, you could always guarantee on him bringing up teams from the Championship into the Premier League, steadying the ship for a few years and doing a steady job. I guess that’s what Newcastle have seen in Bruce to appoint him. “But the club is basically treading water, which is not all Bruce’s fault. Until Mike Ashley decides one way or another to stay or go, the players can feel this complete paralysis around them over where the club is going. With that level on uncertainly, frankly some of the manager’s instructions are going to go straight through them.” Tottenham vs Newcastle is live on Super Sunday from 4pm; kick-off is at 4.30pm. Sky Sports customers can watch in-game clips in the live match blog on the Sky Sports website and app. Highlights will also be published on the Sky Sports digital platforms and the Sky Sports Football YouTube channel shortly after the final whistle.
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