So at the time of writing, we don't really know the future of Steve Bruce at Sunderland AFC. The club have remained pretty silent on it, and the press aren't giving much away if indeed they do know more than us.
We can be sure though a conversation has been had. Just as it has on forums, twitter and pubs across the North East at the minute, and we're throwing our own hat into the ring.
We've come up with a series of statements about Bruce's future brought about by what we've read and heard everyone saying. In this courtroom of sorts, I will be taking the role of the prosecution, and whilst Simon Walsh also wants Steve Bruce to leave, he is going to try and see things from another perspective for the purposes of this. Don't go and "Micky Gray" the poor sod.
There's also a poll for you to decide things. Now lets get on with it...
In his two and a half years here, there's no evidence of working towards any plan, so how can he build anything?
Michael Graham: Any decision to retain Steve Bruce as manager of the club must, at its very core, be reflective of a belief that he can build something of value here. But if you are going to build anything at all in any walk of life there must first be some kind of plan to which you can work. In his 2 and a half years here, is there any kind of evidence to support a notion that such a plan exists? In his first year, he built a team to get the ball forward quickly to a target man. In his second year he built an athletic and young counter attacking team. This season as best I can tell he hasn't bothered to build a team at all, and just decided to try and stay competitive enough to allow a Seb Larsson delivery to win a game. 3 years, 3 different plans, none of which have been committed to and for a club to have retained a manager for this long a period yet still find themselves completely devoid of ANY kind of on-field identity is completely unacceptable.
Simon Walsh: Do we lack identity? You could say we're only now starting to develop one. whilst it might not be the identity everyone wants, we've begun to look steelier than ever in defence, and if we can start scoring, there's every chance that this could all be turned around quite quickly. Plans have had to be re-shuffled over the years due to certain individuals storming off in a huff, which he surely can't be blamed for. The reasons the likes of Bent, Gyan etc, players we would have built around, left is purely financial. I don't think Steve really has a say on that department.
Bruce is unable to recognise or acknowledge any kind of problem, so how can we expect him to fix it?
Michael Graham: Every shred of empirical evidence suggests Bruce has his head buried firmly in the sand and is steadfastly refusing to accept there is a problem. 'We are not doing much wrong' and 'we are not far off at all' have become staples of his monotonously repetitive post-match rhetoric and have no basis in reality. It could be argued that his performances for the cameras are not designed to portray what he genuinely believes, but rather what he'd like the public to believe. But if that was the case then why would he continually churn out the exact same failing formula week after week? Why wouldn't he change it? Change systems, partnerships, on-pitch dynamics, or anything at all? Clearly Bruce has no idea of the severity of the problems at Sunderland and how can you possibly trust someone to fix a problem they refuse to acknowledge even exists?
Simon Walsh: I think he's acknowledged most problems, he's just been left in an extraordinary set of circumstances. One key problem is the left hand side, it's well known we were after Charles N'Zogbia for example, but Short wouldn't sanction the move based on wages etc, and just because he hasn't rushed out and bought any old winger to fill in, doesn't mean he hasn't acknowledged it. Other problems being of course in the striking department, but the way Bent and Gyan left were hugely unfortunate. Particularly Gyan as he was told otherwise by the player himself only days before.
Bruce meekly allowed Bent and Gyan to use the club without providing any guardianship for its integrity.
Michael Graham: In addition to proving completely unable to positively affect things on the pitch, at least with any sustenance, Bruce has unequivocally proven himself to be a poor guardian of the club's integrity. We can condemn the characters of Darren Bent and Asamoah Gyan all we want, but the fact is that it was Bruce who brought them to the club and then meekly stood by and allowed them to use the club like a cheap tart and then freely abandon it when it suited their own agendas. A manager of a football club has a fundamental responsibility to be a strong custodian and too many people have now been seen to be allowed wander in and out of Sunderland as they please for there ever to remain any kind of respect for the club as long as Bruce remains its figurehead.
Simon Walsh: If players are going to cause disruption in and around the club, then we should let them go. It's all well and good saying "If I were in charge I'd have put my foot down" and all that, but we don't know just how much it was affecting things, nor if the situation was even repairable. Players come and go, even now not one of them is here for the love of the club, anyone that thinks so is deluding themselves.
Bruce has zero ambition for the club (glorifying 10th etc) so his mere association devalues the club.
Michael Graham: Bruce's neglect for Sunderland's outward perception does not end at just being a soft touch, unfortunately. Week after week he glorifies his tenth placed finished, holding it up as some kind of all-conquering footballing holy grail. It is the limit of his ambition and therefore the limit of the club's perceived ambition. He even happily sacrifices the cup competitions to try and achieve it. I don't believe that people expect him to achieve great things, much less demand it, but considering the backing he has received to hold the exact same personal goals as he held at a club of Wigan's size reeks of sheer cowardice and defeatism and devalues the club through association.
Simon Walsh: As much as he likes to beat us to death with it, and whether we got their via the backdoor or not, 10th is 10th, and a very respectable position. Perhaps he could choose his words more carefully than threatening to do it again, more point out he did it for us, and that should surely buy him some more time? Not many other managers have done that for us. As for ambitions, I'm sure they are higher than Wigan. I'm sure he'd never have moved for the likes of Sessegnon or Gyan whilst at them, but Wigan are Wigan, nothing to do with us. Again, it's down to choosing his phrasing better. For Wigan, the top ten would be a good finish. It is for us too given the yo-yo years.
Bruce's relationship with the fans is utterly untenable.
Michael Graham: It has reached the point now where by he will never be more than another defeat or two away from the exact same reaction he got against Wigan. A win against Wolves might take the sting out of it, but from now on anything other than achieving something very special here will be no more than a stop-gap solution, and we look no closer to a notable achievement today than we did the day he walked into the club. He is a dead man walking, a lame duck. Through his football, his words, and his demeanour he has alienated too much of the support and too severely to ever get them back again. It is difficult to see how unity can ever be achieved as long as Bruce is at the club and even harder to envisage how the club can move forward without it.
Simon Walsh: It's certainly at the lowest it's ever been, but given the fact it's still relatively early in the season there's time for change. Unlikely as it seems, a few wins could guide us away from the danger zone, and most of this will all be forgotten. I don't recall the chants of "Fat Geordie Bastard" etc when we were flying last season. It's picking and choosing an agenda against Bruce when it suits. We're in a much better situation than when he walked in. Look at the squad he inherited from Roy Keane and look at it now. We're better off in almost every department. He's taken us up a level, even if it is only one level and we the fans wanted a little more.
Who's right, who's wrong? I doubt this has changed anyone's mind, but it's nice to have a debate. Vote in our poll!