'Everyone’s a manager these days': Steve Bruce on life as Newcastle United manager in the social media age
That’s something Steve Bruce, preparing for Sunday’s Premier League game against Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux, is getting used to 15 months into his career at Newcastle United.
The club was beaten 4-1 by Manchester United at St James’s Park last Saturday – and Bruce came in for criticism for the three late goals his team conceded.
Bruce, unhappy with tactical criticism, had called for more “balance” in the reporting of his team last month.
Asked about the backlash to the club’s latest behind-closed-doors defeat, Bruce said: “Look, we’re disappointed at the result, that’s for sure. Maybe it was a true reflection.
"But I think if you took true reflections on all of the games, they’re all a little bit strange. The results we’re getting are very, very strange. I understand criticism. I’ve had criticism since I walked through the door 15 months ago, and when we get beat, I’m going to get criticised.
"So, as long as it’s balanced … we were, in my opinion, too easy to play against last week. We need to get that balance right.
"That’s the thing we must work on and improve on, to try and get that balance right to be a little bit more attacking.
“That’s why we brought in the players we brought in, rather than being defensive-minded, back behind the ball … try and get that balance right. Look, you’re right about criticism. I can understand criticism, totally.
"At the end of the day we’ve lost 4-1 at home. Then you’re going to be criticised. That’s the nature of the beast.”
Social media channels have amplified criticism of managers and players – and team selection and tactics are criticised in real time.
"Back in the day, we all went to the pub and looked at the team sheet and thought ‘why did you pick him?’,” said Bruce. “We'd sit around, have a beer on it and say ‘should’ve played him – and him’.
“That’s now magnified – and everyone has a platform. Everyone has a different look on what team I pick. That is the beauty of football. My job’s out there to be scrutinised. What has he done this for? That's the part you'd enjoy in the pub.
“Now, with the platform fans have got, everyone’s a manager these days – and everyone knows best. We are all different opinions.
"I hope in my job I get the majority OK, or I won't last very long. It’s magnified, though, and the one thing about not being at the ground, not seeing their team live, is different from watching it on TV.”
Scrutiny comes with the job – especially at Newcastle.
“I’m under no illusion that if you’re manager of Newcastle, then the criticism flows,” said Bruce. “Sometimes, you think it’s a bit unjust, but it’s part and parcel of what we deal with.
"You come under huge scrutiny. In the past, you used to discuss it in the pub. Now, everyone is a manager. Let’s get on with it. I can’t stop it. It’s until the next game, and hopefully we can produce a performance that can get us a result.”