Steve Bruce – We’re Sorry?
Posted on May 3, 2007
Filed Under Bruce-O-Meter
Argh… I’ve been putting writing something about Steve Bruce off for days now.
There seems to be a massive swell of admiration, adulation and apologies for the man since promotion was achieved on Sunday. You hear people ringing up Tom Ross and see people posting on message boards about how sorry they are that they ever doubted him and how the board were right to stick by him and how he’s definitely the right man for the job.
And why not?
At the beginning of the season, Bruce made a concious decision to sell off all the over the hill stars, players he’d become too reliant on and those who spent more time in the physio’s room than the training pitch. He vowed that he would bring in young and hungry players who were capable of scoring goals.
Out went too many to mention, in came too many to mention. Some we agreed with, some we didn’t. Some we shrugged our shoulders at and wondered just who they were.
Now we find ourselves one game away from the end of the season with promotion secured and just a matched result away from being crowned Champions. If we beat Preston North End on Sunday afternoon, this will be our joint highest ever season as far as point scoring goes – our highest ever in the top two leagues (including if you convert all previous seasons where a win was only worth 2 points.)
Steve Bruce’s vision at the beginning of the season has paid off. For the majority of the season, we haven’t had a full up physio’s room, we haven’t had players who simply look like they can’t be bothered, we haven’t had a team run out of steam in the last 15 minutes of a game, we haven’t looked resigned to anything. The current crop have got bottle, guts and determination in abundance.
Therefore, Steve Bruce’s ideas at the start of the season have paid off and delivered us what we were all so hungry for. Well, what we all demanded if we’re being honest. Promotion back to Premiership. And what a journey it has been. It’s typical of a Steve Bruce team.
When I look back throughout the season, I can’t quite believe that it’s happened. I can’t quite believe that we’re there. It’s finally been done. After lurching from crisis to crisis, the promised land is back in sight. Well done to everyone involved.
On the surface, I’m pleased for Steve Bruce. First of all, he is a bloke who cares. You can tell that doing well – for us, the club and the players he represents – means a lot to him. He has a genuine desire to turn Birmingham City into a force. I believe that about the man. I also believe he’s a genuinely nice fella, a bloke who keeps it simple and says what he needs to say to the right people in order to get certain jobs done.
I, for one, will be satisfied to start next season with Steve Bruce as manager of Birmingham City FC. I want to say that before anything else here. This is not a blog against Steve Bruce in any way. I’m grateful for the job he’s done this term and I think he’s earnt another crack at leading us in the Premiership.
But I have doubts… and Bruce might think of me as unintelligent and Tom Ross might think of me as “evil” but in a true reflective piece on our season and the abilities of our current manager, these doubts have to be questioned.
I have been fairly anti-Bruce all season. I still perhaps believe that if we’d had a more tactically astute coach in charge of this magnificently assembled squad, we’d have won the title already this season.
I’ll ask one question to those currently lauding Brucey. If
Lenny Kenny Lunt’s shot had been two inches lower on Saturday and we’d gone on to lose 1-0, how would you be assessing the current boss now? Ringing up saying sorry on local radio or posting about how you love the friendly, bouncy Geordie? Probably not.
Our season has largely depended on the wonderful talents of players such as Nicklas Bendtner and Gary McSheffrey. Players who are worth millions of pounds. Simon Jordan claims that we’ve bought pretty much every striker we could! It’s not far wrong in all honesty. We’ve been allowed to spent a fortune compared to some of our rivals and the individual skill and abilities of some of these players have shone through.
I suppose in some roundabout way, I’m suggesting that individuals allowed by our oversized budget have won us promotion as opposed to the abilities of Steve Bruce. I can’t think of too many occasions this season when I’ve thought to myself “Yeah, that’s a cracking decision by Brucey.” I’ve more often than not been left confused / bemused by decisions.
We’ve often been predictable, as has team selection, and when different games have called for different methods and tactics, Bruce has failed to notice and adapt. How on Earth we can be so lacklustre against the likes of Norwich City, Southend United and Burnley at home beggars belief.
On occasions when we’ve needed that extra spark or bit of creativity to break a resolute side down, Bruce has failed to provide it. He’ll overload the bench with attacking threat but only utilize it when it’s getting nervy with half an hour to go.
Lower half sides must’ve gone away from St Andrew’s chuckling this season such was the lack of action required by the goalkeeper hiding behind his two banks of four. When this happens, we need to see someone who can play.
I’m not going to be one of those who immediately calls for Neil Kilkenny to be put in the side but what about a Neil Danns? Or a more daring 3 at the back formation with an extra man in behind the front two? There’s been hardly any of that this season. There’s been quite a bit of hoof ball when we quickly realise that the midfield’s not quite creative enough for the job at hand. It gives possession to the opposition and sees us under pressure.
What worries me is going back into the Premiership and Bruce being seemingly paralysed by this fear of getting beat. I’m not one of those who believes that losing a game 3-2 is better than drawing a game 0-0 but at times, games literally cry out for someone who can put his foot on the ball and play it. No hoofing, no shovelling it out to the wing at every given opportunity because no-one else is capable. At times, even on Saturday, we didn’t look like we knew how to pass to a bloke in a blue shirt.
A lot has been made of the fact that this side is very young, very inexperienced and was put together rather quickly. Up until now, I’ve underestimated just what a job that can be for a manager. He definitely deserves credit for that. He also deserves credit for admitting that he’s made mistakes and trying to correct them (the three strikers thing springs immediately to mind.)
Bruce has endured some terrible stick this season, some deserved, some not. I’ll have my say if I think he’s not doing the business, but equally I’ll defend him (and have done) if I think he’s done a good job of something and others decide to slate him.
At the moment, he is, in my opinion, on an upward curve and the players that he’s brought in will hopefully be more at home in the Premiership than in the Championship – we’ve been hearing all season about how ‘x’ and ‘x’ are finding adjusting to life in the Championship difficult. Let’s hope it doesn’t take time to reacclimatize! After all, we have a good record in the cups against Prem sides this term.
And so… with all this said, I’ll be giving Bruce a 6/10 on the Bruce-O-Meter today.
He’s gone up three spots for coming through some tough spots this season. I think we’ve all underestimated how difficult it’s been at times and how hard the Championship is as a league.
At the beginning of the season, he had a vision. He’s gone about that and brought what was expected. For that, he deserves credit and a definite second chance at the Premiership as manager of Birmingham City.