Steve Bruce has vowed to battle on after a “difficult” night in which Newcastle United lost 2-1 at home to Leeds United.
This season, both Steve Bruce and Marcelo Bielsa, his Leeds opponent on Friday, have failed to win a league match.
Stubbornness may be a characteristic shared by many Premier League managers, but it certainly looks stressful when your team is in danger of being thrashed and thousands of supporters are screaming for your head.
That was my impression from a few yards behind Steve Bruce during Newcastle’s tumultuous first half at St James’ Park on Friday night, when the Magpies drew 1-1 with Leeds.
The Magpies’ manager has already said that his family thinks he is “sick” for putting up with the criticism, but he insisted that he would not walk away, even after another night in which his face seemed ashen at points.
It makes you question whether it’s all worth it, despite his joy at Allan Saint-equalizer Maximin’s and pleasure at his team’s progress after being torn apart by Marcelo Bielsa’s side for most of the first half.
“I can’t sit here and pretend it’s not tough,” Bruce, who was also chastised by fans for most of last season, remarked afterwards. I understand your dissatisfaction. I really believe it.
“But for me, it’s all about the team and the atmosphere that was created by the crowd’s reaction to the squad. I’m not sure what to say about the chanting.”
On a warm night on Tyneside beneath the lights, they were loud and came from all four corners of the stadium.
“We want Brucey out” began after three minutes, but when Raphina gave Leeds a 13th-minute lead, the song moved down the Gallowgate End of St James’ Park, and the message became boomingly loud from huge parts of the 50,000-strong crowd as the visitors threatened to run wild.
Visitors to the stadium will be aware of how loud Newcastle fans can be while cheering for their side, as they did when Saint-Maximin made an almost solo cavalry charge.
On a night when Newcastle supporters booed Steve Bruce, Allan Saint-Maximin shone.
When they target one individual in front of the dugout, though, it’s difficult not to feel sorry for the victim.
Of course, Newcastle’s managers have been here before. However, shouts aimed against owner Mike Ashley shortly after reveal a club that is “empty” and hollow, according to former Newcastle striker Alan Shearer. external-link
Perhaps Bruce wishes he was in the same situation as Bielsa, who, despite a similarly dismal start to the season, has been steadfast in adhering to his tactics.
The difference is the goodwill that the Argentine has earned among Leeds fans after leading them to their first Premier League appearance in 16 years with an exciting style of play that resulted to a ninth-place finish in the top division last season.
Bruce, who has guided Newcastle to successive 13th and 12th-place finishes in his two seasons in charge, has been chastised by supporters for almost everything: his tactics, style of play, training, man-management, and even his decision to take a vacation during the international break last Saturday.
After that incident, he accused the local newspaper of promoting “negativity” to supporters, despite the fact that many would argue that results, performances, and the club’s present condition are what have contributed to their current attitude.
After a strong finish to last season, Bruce is failed to win in five Premier League games this season, and things have already gone sour, not least when he expressed his anger with supporters after being denied the opportunity to add anybody on transfer deadline day.
To their credit, the fans demonstrated on Friday that they have no desire to turn on the team, which performed well to turn around a game that seemed to be out of reach in the first half. Bruce expressed his satisfaction with his team’s performance.
The odds of the 60-year-old regaining fans seem slim, but he will not give up, no matter how stressful it is.
“In this circumstance, I’ll keep trying to be the best I can be,” he stated. “I’m hoping to use the expertise I’ve gained over the past 20 years to attempt to drown out the noise.”
It’ll take some effort.