Introducing The Bruce-O-Meter…!

Posted on February 5, 2007 
Filed Under Bruce-O-Meter

A while ago, the good people of the Joys & Sorrows forum were discussing a way to measure how well or badly Steve Bruce was doing as the manager of our beloved club. ‘TerribleBlue’ came up with the idea of the ‘Bruce-O-Meter’ and set to work on a simple set of images to go with the concept.

That was months ago…

Today I’m finally getting around to making the thing a small feature on the blog and I take complete blame for it taking so long to see the light of day. Initially I couldn’t think of a decent way of using it. I wanted everyone to have a say in how well Brucey was doing but in the end couldn’t figure out a simple enough interactive way to present it.

Then Norwich City happened and I figured Bruce would get the bullet before I had chance to implement it – then we went on an amazing run and I didn’t want to introduce it whilst we were doing so well because I still didn’t think Bruce deserved 8 or 9 out of 10 because of the previous couple of seasons. However, had I introduced it and given him 3 or 4 out of 10 when we’re doing so magnificently, I’d have no doubt had my inbox invaded by 100’s of people telling me how pessimistic I am and how I should give the manager more credit for turning it around!


We’re in a bit of a jam. We’re not playing very well in the league, Steve Bruce seems to have gone back to what he was doing earlier in the season and we’re eight points off the top of the division. If the right action is taken now, we can turn our season around. If the wrong action is taken, we could find ourselves struggling to hang on to a playoff spot.

I suppose I’ve waited until our recent record has happened to introduce this feature due to – I believe – many more Blues fans views on Bruce now matching up with my own. The magnificent run was never going to continue and I’ve waited for it to end. Not so I can jump up and down and call for Bruce’s head – but to give Bruce the rating I feel he’s deserving of.

Like I said earlier, I couldn’t think of a decent way of implementing it so that everyone could have a say. If you know of a simple way other than simply doing a weekly blog / poll asking for people’s opinions then let me know. For now I’ll simply have my say on how well I think our esteemed manager is doing… my blog, I pay the bills etc!

Periodically I’ll update this when something interesting / amusing / newsworthy happens concerning Bruce.

Today I rate our boss:

Steve Bruce - 3/10

A miserable 3/10!

I’m sure some people will jump up and down and demand to know how I can give a manager who has taken us to 4th in the league (with two games in hand), delivered the 5-1 win against Newcastle United and brought in some fantastic new players for us over the last few months a paltry 3/10.

Well, let me explain.

Before this season started, Bruce had no standing with quite a few Bluenoses – myself included. I felt that his startling tactics and his over reliance on certain individuals cost the club dear. It is was possible to give the bloke a score in the minuses, I probably would’ve done.

Into this season and he at least started to ship out the dead wood and bring in fresh “young and hungry” players. It seemed that a squad that wanted to represent Birmingham City was being assembled – even if it did seem like Bruce was simply buying up all the lower division talent that had scored goals.

In short : the squad had a cobbled together feel and it didn’t seem as though Bruce was identifying problems to solve. I stood by and watched as our manager bought in players simply because they’d scored fifteen from midfield in League One. Even David Gold remarked that he’d have signed a goalkeeper had he been capable of getting one or two a season.

That showed a distinct lack of planning and whilst I was pleased with the players, I wasn’t pleased with the apparent lack of vision in what I personally thought we should be doing.

We tried to be the side that played attacking football and scored goals but we had a weak underbelly and were being out played at times, out muscled at others and just didn’t look like anything had clicked. Bruce churned out excuse after excuse about needing time to gel and I lost count of the amount of times I heard the figures of how many had gone and how many had been brought in. We’ll paper over the fact that Cardiff City had done the same but were 10 or 11 points ahead of us!

Then Norwich City happened and I know for some ‘Noses, they felt more embarrassed by Norwich than they did by Liverpool in the Cup the previous season. A great chunk of the Blues fans on ‘duty’ that night booed Bruce when he touched the ball and it seemed as though his time was up.

Incredibly he claimed that the majority of Blues fans were behind him and that it was just an internet message board few that were against him. Tom Ross backed him up and it seemed that a clear divide had happened. Steve Bruce had alienated himself from a great chunk of the fanbase and his dismissal seemed to be the only logical way forwards.

The board backed him and then that deflected Stephen Clemence goal at Derby County might’ve changed the course of Steve Bruce’s career as Birmingham City manager. Bruce went on a verbal diarrhoea spree for the next few weeks and waxed lyrical about the board being intelligent people and basically, along with Tom Ross, said that anyone who’d dare doubt his position as Blues boss was wrong and not entitled to such an opinion.

It’s those constant interviews about the board being the smart people and the fans who questioned what was happening being the incorrect and ‘wrong’ ones that got my back up. Even during our good run we had a huge amount of luck and only the skill and killer instincts of Nicklas Bendtner – an Arsenal player – and Gary McSheffrey were keeping us rolling along.

Now of course, I’m not for one second suggesting that the brilliance of the run was down to luck and luck alone. Since Norwich City at home, Steve Bruce became a different man and was a lot more bullish and forthright with his opinions and views. He was strong and seemed to have finally understood that no-one wanted a meek manager who simply tried to please all of the people all of the time. He found a spine and although he never did apologise for all those interviews, he finally seemed to be getting on with the job of managing and gave up his part time position of sniping at fans who’d questioned him.

Of course, it’s impossible to sum up the season without mentioning Bruce’s so-called ‘Love Child’ Damien Johnson – captain of the football club. I’ll cover DJ in depth in a separate blog sometime but Bruce’s insistence on having DJ in the team – both earlier in the season and currently – is damaging the balance of the side. Against Southend United, Johnson looked nervous, edgy and often played a pass – or gave the ball away – when a much more measured or attacking ball was what was required. The fans were getting on his back and we have a new scapegoat now that Julian Gray has all but left.

Johnson doesn’t deserve that but the situation has been completed created by the manager. Bruce made Johnson captain, Bruce made Johnson undroppable and Bruce stubbornly sticks to that decision when everyone else on the planet knows that Johnson is limited on the right and Clemence and Muamba are the best central midfield combination. That leaves just right-back for Johnson and since we have Kelly for that position, it leaves Johnson just one place that he should rightfully be – the subs bench.

The last few games have also seen some baffling decisions and I’m worried that the Bruce of old – overly defensive and too stubborn to change – has returned and that ultimately it will cost us promotion. No-one can deny that we have a superb bunch of players available and there’s a reason we were given the tag of favourites at the beginning of the season.

Bruce did and has made small steps of progress throughout the season but too often does he do things that remind me of the misery of relegation and the limitations of a man who manages like he used to play – tough, stubborn and uncompromising. He doesn’t seem to have that tactical ability to spot exactly what is needed and when. Whether that’s a substitution, a small tactical switch or just a carefully chosen word to bring two warring parties to the table for Peace talks.

I like Steve Bruce the man, I always have. Since Norwich, he’s been more forthright and it’s been much better to listen to – aside from those nauseating brown-nosing speeches about how wonderful the board were. I base my score on what Bruce has done over the last 3 years at St Andrew’s. In short, not a lot.

He’s started to rebuild this season and at this moment in time, I’m teetering on the edge. A few more bad results could see me switch back to how I was at the season’s beginning and equally, a full 90 minute performance like the opening twenty minute period against Southend could see me firmly behind Bruce.

He may only have 3/10 but the next few weeks are crucial in determining which division we’ll be in next season as well as what chance Steve Bruce has of being Birmingham City manager this time next season.


14 Responses to “Introducing The Bruce-O-Meter…!”

  1. BFW on February 5th, 2007 8:50 pm

    people have got to stop panic. So we are goin through a sticky patch at the moment so does every club. Wait a few weeks and everybody will b sayin how well we are doin.

  2. John Baker on February 5th, 2007 9:03 pm

    You’re right Aff, it’s not about the results at the end of 2006 and our league postion, but about what has taken place over 4 years:

    -Poor tactics
    -Playing Johnson regardless
    -Playing players out of postion rather than try out a young reserve
    -Not getting the best out ‘our best squad ever’ last season

    and on, and on.

    On the plus side he’s made some good signings, and although they’ll often nick a game and temporarily gloss over the ineptitude of team tactics, Steve Bruce has still yet to show that he is tactically aware.

    3/10 is about right.

    Over to you Stevie boy!

  3. snashy on February 5th, 2007 9:15 pm

    Trouble with this league is if someone gets a run together they overtake everyone.
    Its so close it could be anyone of about 10 clubs occupying top 2 positions at the end of the season.

    If Brucie does not get us going again and taking 3 points against the ” mighty ” Colchesters or Southends then we’ll end up in a lottery of the playoffs again.

    Simple truth is we need to be resilient and also clinical when the chances arrive, and as yet I still don’t think SB has his ideal partnership sorted up front.

    Fingers crossed we’ll bounce back , win our games in hand and beat the Albion and Direby and reclaim top spot – but Blues never do anything easy !?!?!

  4. andrew on February 5th, 2007 9:20 pm

    The worrying part for me is the other clubs!!! While we have been struggling of late, the other teams have been on a great run and, more importantly, purchased well during the transfer window. Their confidence couldn’t be better at the moment sharply contrasting our low confidence, poor run of form and complete failure to bring anybody in during the window apart from a couple of Irish school kids. Very worrying times indeed. still think we’ll be a part of the play offs but the thought of being in that crap shoot is frightening….time will tell.

  5. squire on February 5th, 2007 9:54 pm

    SB at most has done OK to be fair, the worrying thing for me is the squad we have – is it a squad capable of holding their own in the premiership? Well no, we look ordinary at best whether we play a top or lower team. The majority of the current players will not be worthy to warm the bench in the PL, DJ, Campbell, Danns, Jerome, Tiny (although I am developing a soft spot for him). Others are reaching the end of the shelf-life Maik Taylor, Jaidi, N’Gotty – so no defence then and no front-line either!
    So, how much would the board invest in a newly promoted side (should we gain promotion)? Could he (SB) as manager attract top quality players to our club? Would they consider signing, and more importantly where are they coming from?
    Finally, regarding the tranfer window I always thought that Rasiak from the Saints would have been a great acquisition for the club – primarily for getting those all important goals away from home… (apparently)

  6. terribleblue on February 5th, 2007 10:06 pm

    Squire, I’d have to disagree with that. After 5 games against Premier Opposition, we’d have had 7 points, after scoring 13 and conceding 9. Our firepower, when on form, is fine.

    We’ve always played better as the underdog, and I believe we play a ‘Premiership’ style of play, instead of the ugly way of the Championship.

    If we do go up, I think the main bulk of our team is already there, we just need greater strength in depth and improvements in certain areas, e.g. Centre back, an attacking midfielder.

    However, I believe we MUST keep hold of at least Muamba – and Bendter if possible. we would be a nothing team otherwise.

  7. mole56 on February 5th, 2007 11:21 pm

    I wonder what your meter reading was for Trevor Francis or Barry Fry ?

  8. Ian on February 6th, 2007 1:21 am

    A couple of losses and an away draw at the team with the best home record in the division and the boo boys are coming out of the woodwork again. You don’t hear a peep while we are top of league. Come on we’ve hardly played at all in January give them a chance to regain thier winning form with a few games under thier belts first.

  9. Dudleydog on February 6th, 2007 8:41 am

    3 out of 10 is exactly where I would place him. Even on the ‘Good run’ there were some decidedly lucky wins, where lower teams were left agreived of the result. Since boxing day (which was a shaky home win against the mighty QPR) we have picked up 2 points from 12 against mostly teams from the lower reaches of the division, Colchester being the only team in the top half.
    The tactics during this time have been dubious, with either very defensive midfield combinations or the dropping of Larsson, who is at least a provider of chances.
    For us to get promoted automatically the Manager will have to pull his socks up now and get results under his belt, it will be about keeping up with the pace now, then winning games against our rivals.

  10. Allan on February 6th, 2007 10:55 am

    Pointless worrying about “do we have any prem class players” we ain’t in the Prem. Im disappointed with the board more than Bruce at the minute, but Bruce has turned the whole Upson situation in he’s favour. I’d like to see the board give Bruce the cash to add at least an attacking midfielder, maybe even a central defender to our ranks, as personally I feel or best placed finish will be play off’s. Lets see what youngers Arsenal have kicking around.

    I’ve also noticed a lot of positives being said about Black of late, he was slated at the start of the season, is it Black that wants to play the more expansive, attacking footy? with Bruce more defensive minded?

  11. Bazzathebluenose on February 6th, 2007 11:10 am

    Come on guys. We are still fourth and have two games in hand which must be won I grant you but good results would place us back second two points behind Derby and four points clear of Preston. Stop whining about the last couple of seasons and start concentrating on the here and now. We have a championship to win and we as fans have to play our part regardless of who runs the club and who is the manager. Anyone would think that other teams don’t have their problems. I take my hat off to Derby who keep knicking solitary winning goals mainly in the last five minutes but they have ridden their luck just as we did during our run. I cannot see them getting away with it forever since I believe they do not merit top spot in the longer term. Now the teams who were feeling aggrieved after defeats by us including Derby I might add huffed and puffed and flattered to deceive before either defending badly or going to sleep at set pieces. The games at both Colchester and Ipswich could both have easily gone our way although you could argue that we didn’t deserve to win either but Ipswich certainly got the rub of the green when it mattered when I felt we had done enough to merit a draw. So for heavens sake cheer up. It is the players that will or will not get us promotion which I for one believe they will. However, anything less than top spot should see SB leave the club but lets hang him in May not now eh?


  12. Carl on February 6th, 2007 11:29 am

    For those who think Bruce only deserves 3 out of 10 – you miserable lot!

    Sure, he should have put Clemence in earlier in the season and put him and Muamba back together straight after the Newcastle game, regardless AND learn how to sub DJ BUT it’s all about expectancy: you’re all upset because we were 8 points clear and now we’re not – give credit for getting us in that position in the first place.

    Also, DJ is not a bad player – let’s stop having a go, week in/week out, it’s simply that Larsson is a better wide man and Clem/ Muamba are better in the middle. As Aff said, it’s not his fault. He must be aware of the continual slaggin on the net, no wonder his performances are edgey!

    Reality check: most teams, like us, don’t play like Arsenal and Man Utd; most teams, like us, don’t have Henry or Rooney; most teams, like us, don’t have managers like Fergie or Wenger. Let’s be more optimistic about what we’ve got!!!

  13. oldburyblue on February 6th, 2007 1:26 pm

    Damien Johnson is one of those players that doesn’t catch the eye, but does a brilliant job for the team. An example would be in the away match at Newcastle when he marked Dyer out of the game, therefore cutting off their main threat. Every team needs a ‘DJ type’ player, but the problem is that we play 2 or even 3 ‘DJ’s’ in the same team. On paper we have the best set of strikers in the League..but they need the ball played thro’ to them in the correct manner so that they can cause the havoc that they are more than capable of inflicting.

    If you subscribe to ‘Blues World’ take a look at our goals scored this season. It is amazing just how many involve Larsson, He may not cross the ball as OFTEN as Pennant, but sometimes quality is better than quantity.

  14. philip griffiths on February 6th, 2007 3:54 pm

    i dont think any new accusitions will solve our problems
    just the opposite we need to offload
    mr bruce of course
    give the job to black to end of the season
    i already think its to late

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This section of the site covers the blog portion of J&S from 26th April 2006 - when the site returned after a catastrophic hosting failure causing the loss of over 500 articles - to 28th April 2008 - when I decided to have a prolonged rest from the site.

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