Steve Bruce unwisely crossed a line at Newcastle United

There’s a line that few managers dare cross.

Monday, 28th December 2020, 5:00 pm

If a manager criticises a club’s fanbase, then he does so at his own risk.

Many of Steve Bruce’s predecessors at Newcastle United have had to bite their tongues over the years. They’ve all had their own frustrations at St James’s Park, and none of them have liked the criticism which inevitably comes with the job.

Even the late, great Sir Bobby Robson was not immune to criticism from supporters. Robson, however, chose his words carefully.

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Bruce, of course, had pledged to accept whatever criticism came his way following last week’s Carabao Cup defeat to an under-strength Brentford side.

United’s head coach named a very strong side for the quarter-final at the Brentford Community Stadium, only for his team to produce a weak performance. They were deservedly beaten 1-0.

“I have to accept what’s coming my way, and accept that its part and parcel of being the manager of Newcastle and accept the criticism which is fully justified,” said Bruce.

Bruce was lucky there were no fans inside the stadium. As it was, Bruce had to contend with criticism from the media – and supporters online. There was further scrutiny of his tactics – and calls for him to go.

Steve Bruce.

And that criticism had seemingly got to Bruce by the time he took his team to the Etihad Stadium for the Boxing Day game against Manchester City, which Newcastle lost 2-0.

Asked if the criticism had been over the top, Bruce said: “I’ll let other people judge that. We had a bad week, but some of the mass hysteria, in my opinion, was unfair. A lot of it was not right, in my opinion. I’m probably going to say that, but that’s my opinion on it.”

Presumably Bruce had been advised to avoid criticising fans, whatever his frustrations. Certainly, that comment needlessly inflamed things ahead of tomorrow night’s home game against Liverpool.

United’s players can quieten Bruce’s critics through performances and results, and United, 13th in the Premier League and seven points above the relegation zone, have a tough run of games coming up.

And Bruce should take a step back after unwisely stepping over that line at the Etihad Stadium.

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