From The Durham Times: It's Time To Face Up To Reality

Steve Bruce

Happy Sunday everyone.

Well, yesterday was a bit of an opinion splitter, wasn't it? Woeful to concede two such early goals, but happy to show a bit of fight and get back into the game...

However, before all of yesterday's festivities, I was the one to knock up this week's column for the Durham Times. We at Roker Report would be delighted if you could nip to the shop and get yourself a hard copy, it's only 30p, but if like me, that isn't an option for you, here it is, in all it's online glory...`

BEFORE I get down to business here, let me make a couple of things clear. None of this is borne out of a knee-jerk reaction, I am not a doom-monger, and I don't enjoy Sunderland AFC doing poorly. I gain no pleasure in being negative about them, but frankly, at the moment, they are leaving me little choice.

We have registered just one win all season, our record signing left the club to play in front of 1,000 people on a weekly basis, we have had a player arrested, we were dumped out of the cup at the first attempt by a team from a lower league, we lost at home to our biggest rivals, there are rumours of the chairman leaving and we played terribly in our last game.

Do I sound hysterical? And, a question for you Mr Bruce, can I honestly be blamed?

The Norwich game was nothing less than a shambles. It seems the team turned up fully expecting to pick up the three points without having to try, which is baffling given our recent form, and the home side saw things differently.

Across the field our individual performances were poor, with only Wes Brown and Nicklas Bendtner coming away from the game with any real credit. Elsewhere, our passing was negative and almost always sideways or backwards, as well as being wayward, and our will to track runners was non-existent.

It is fair to say that the defending for both Norwich goals would have been more at home in a pub team, not a side that expects to finish in the top team of one of the strongest leagues in the world.

We at Roker Report are loath to turn on our manager, and we genuinely hope that he manages to turn things around, but his decision making during the game was curious, to say the least.

Unfortunately, Bruce has something of a 'kitchen sink' mentality when it comes to making substitutions.

Already a number of times this season, Ji and Wickham have been thrown on in our time of need, but to sacrifice Sebastian Larsson, the one player in our ranks with the ability to provide crosses of genuine quality, was an unpopular choice.

Perhaps the most worrying thing is that Bruce doesn't seem to think that there is a problem. Our record, which stretches to almost nine months now, is relegation form at best. Yet our manager sticks with the same system, seemingly in the hope that it may eventually come right.

If Mr Bruce doesn't realise that we are in turmoil, and that things probably aren't going to work out on their own, then how can he be the one to turn this situation around?

To me, it is becoming embarrassing that he refuses to take the blame for our form, and it almost seemed like a case of him claiming 'I told you so' in his post-match comments after the Stoke game.

When a line is drawn between the people in charge of the club and its supporters, problems will arise, and quickly.

As I said, no-one at Roker Report wants Bruce to do badly, and we want him to succeed as much as anyone, but will even a victory over West Brom on Saturday paper over the cracks which are becoming so evident?

Something needs to change at the Stadium of Light, and I genuinely hope that Bruce can find out what it is, before it becomes a change in manager that the fans, and club in general, are crying out for.

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If you want to get on over to the Durham Times website, you'll also find it there. Click this link to be taken straight there.

And that's about that. I know that some people don't like negative comments about the club, and I've been accused of not being a 'proper' fan on more than one occasion recently, but let me ask you this, where in the 'rules' of supporting your team say that you have to be positive 100% of the time? I'll be positive when I have something to be positive about.

Ok, I'd better go, I seem to be getting a little mad. See you all soon for another top week on Roker Report.

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