Things are unravelling for Steve Bruce at Newcastle United
So this week’s revelation of a training ground bust-up with Matt Ritchie is particularly damaging to the relegation-threatened club’s head coach.
The row arose out of Bruce’s comments after last weekend’s 1-1 draw against Wolverhampton Wanderers at St James’s Park. Ritchie was tasked with issuing tactical instructions to some of his team-mates after being sent on. However, the visiting team equalised before the team could reorganised.
“The instructions didn't get on to the team quick enough on how we were doing it,” said Bruce. “When you look at the goal, we should have stopped the cross, and when the keeper (Martin Dubravka) looks at it, could he have done better?"
Bruce was also critical of Joelinton for failing to take a second-half chance.
Karl Darlow had been unhappy before the Wolves game after learning early in the week that he was set to be dropped through a newspaper report. Darlow was formally told that Martin Dubravka would start later in the week.
Bruce’s criticism, it seems, hasn’t gone down well in the dressing room.
The 60-year-old has pointed to injuries, a Covid-19 outbreak and individual errors in recent months. However, Bruce – who demanded more “respect” from the journalists covering the club in January during a long winless run – hasn’t blamed himself too many times this season.
And the responsibility for preparing the players – and the team’s form – ultimately rests with him, and it’s time he more readily acknowledged that.