Steve Bruce has been ‘battered’ and used as Newcastle United’s fall guy, says son Alex
The visit of Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday afternoon sees Steve take charge of his 1,000th fixture in management, at the beginning of his third full season in charge of the Magpies. Macclesfield centre-back Alex, who was signed by his father for Hull City in 2012, explained that he has found witnessing the criticism Bruce has faced since joining Newcastle difficult.
“It’s been tough. I wouldn’t sit here and lie and say it hasn’t, it’s been really tough to watch the criticism,” Alex Bruce told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Football Daily podcast. “Since he took the job, I think the lack of respect that has been shown, considering he’s done 1,000 games, has been unbelievable.”
“A lot of things have been said about my dad, and I feel a bit naff sticking up for him, but I would genuinely say for anyone who has done 999 games as a manager, 980-odd as a player, to see certain individuals question his integrity, his professionalism, his ability as a manager, questioning things like his warm-ups, his substitutions… they all make mistakes, but has he not deserved a crack?
The 37-year-old went on to defend the jobs his father has done in charge of some of the Premier League’s less wealthy football clubs.
“He’s never had the opportunity at managing a club who can go and spend proper money,” Alex Bruce said. “He’s managed teams in the Premier League like Wigan, Birmingham, Hull City… his win ratio in the Premier League has been questioned umpteen times - do people really expect massive win percentages when you’re managing clubs like that?
“I don’t think so. I think when you’re a level-headed and intelligent person, you look at the bigger picture. I think he’s done a very good job at all the clubs he’s managed, and I think he deserves a crack. Some of the disrespect he’s been shown has been hard to watch.”
Steve Bruce took over at St. James’ Park in 2019 following the departure of former manager Rafael Benítez, an enormously popular figure with the home crowd, and his job has been consistently under threat since then.
Now that the club has been taken over the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund, A glut of mangers have been linked with his role, including Graham Potter and Unai Emery, and Alex explained that his father had been expecting significant pressure from media and fans when he signed his first contract.
“He knew that was going to be the case from the day he took the job,” he said. “He had an owner who was trying to sell the club, he had an owner who didn’t really want to put any money of his own into the club for a number of reasons, he could only use the money that the club generated and with the pandemic there wasn’t any money there.
“He has been the fall guy. The amount of times I’ve said to him ‘why don’t you let someone else do the press?’ and he just says ‘because I’m the manager, it’s my responsibility’.”
Alex also highlighted his father’s affection for the club, and believes that his boyhood support for the club should have seen him cut more slack than has been the case thus far.
“I know for a fact, no matter what people say, what Newcastle means to him as a fella. He used to crawl under the turnstiles, stand there when he was a kid with his dad, he’s always supported the club.
“No matter what you say about my dad, he thinks a lot of the club and he knows more than anybody that this new ownership has needed to happen and believe me, he is absolutely delighted that it has, not just for the football club, but for the city and the supporters as well.”