I don't need to explain to you that the sacking of Steve Bruce was justified. Forums, social networking sites and discussions in pubs up and across Sunderland reviewed the pros and cons of that decision and I won't bore you with trying to justify it even further. Maybe you still don't agree with it, something that seems unlikely due to the impact of Martin O'Neill obviously highlighting the correctness of the decision, but what is done is done. It fills me with rage then, that it is April 5th and we are all still speaking about this man and his time in charge here. I think the general consensus among us all is that he done a good job initially by shifting dead wood out and by taking us up a notch from where we were. In achieving this he would have been remembered fairly fondly in a few years time despite it being the right time for him to be relieved of his duties. Why oh why didn't he just leave things at that?
When any manager is dismissed there will always be opinion divided amongst fans, players and the media to whether it was the right decision or not. Nothing has a range as large as football when it comes to having grounds for debate. Bruce, Warnock and McCarthy have all been given the old boot from Premier League clubs this season. Both Warnock and McCarthy have cases for being harshly dismissed (I actually happened to agree with McCarthy's before the breathtaking, undermining decision to appoint his O'Connor as his replacement). Both had brought Premier League football to their respective clubs, McCarthy had preserved it and Warnock was treading above water with a side that hadn't played at this level for a decade and a half. Both were visibly aggrieved by the decisions. Both then went on to make statements thanking the fans and the board for their support, regardless of their obvious dismay. It is the correct thing to do for reasons i will get into.
One thing we noticed, however, was bruce didn't make one of these statements.
When Bruce was relieved of his duties, we waited, and waited, and waited for his statement thanking the fans. We waited for him to thank Niall Quinn for the opportunity in giving him his biggest managerial post to date, and only then understandably speak of his disappointment in losing it, to explain he wishes he could have had more time but these things happen. Nothing ever came though, the silence was deafening. Once he returned to our screens accompanied with his golden tan it became clear that he was simply de-stressing abroad somewhere and would now come out and speak of his fondness for his time here, right? Wrong. He does the exact opposite. He doesn't thank us for our support, he indicates we were brutal and wanted him out because of his roots. Four months in and he continues to use the fact that he is from Tyneside as the reason for his downfall. As i said i don't want to bore you with exploring his tactical lunacy further, or getting into the four wins he pathetically achieved in a full calendar year.
Any manager may well be fuming inside, justifiably or not, with having their contract terminated and being relieved of their duties. It is human nature. These typical ‘thank you' statements that subsequently follow their dismissals may be delivered through gritted teeth and are, without question, nothing but PR necessities sprinkled with a tad authenticity on the odd occasion. The fact of the matter is though, this PR is imperative for a Premier League manager in the modern world of football. The C.V's that managers possess are as public as can be, with their previous achievements and their likeability being the two main factors on it. In vigorously trying to defend the first factor, Bruce seems hell-bent on destroying the second. I understand that not all managers are likeable (I used Warnock for my earlier comparison remember), the point is though, that this WAS something that Bruce had in his favour. Away from the North East he appeared to have all this charm and likeability. The national media defended him constantly once he was dismissed, tediously and predictably pointing to the top ten finish that he achieved, and the fact this is the best side we have had in years. Had Bruce remained dignified in the months that followed his departure, this national positive viewpoint of him wouldn't have budged. That's what I don't understand. Outside of Sunderland his C.V would have reflected him as a pleasant person who's most recent completed season saw him finish tenth, and saw his side outside of the relegation zone when he was sacked. We all view that differently of course, but the point is had he kept his irrational ramblings amongst friends and acquaintances he would be able to keep his head held high and he would have been able to return to these parts and probably have been thanked for his work in the future. Will that happen now?
Even the national press and the wider population of football fans can't be buying his delusion anymore. The list of potential employers must be shrinking by the minute. If he continues with this delusion he going to propel himself to the levels of the gorgeous Samantha Brick. All he is actually managing to accomplish is to resurface the anti-Bruce feeling we all have. His shortcomings are once again being discussed by us all wheras remaining dignified would have surely made us all subconsciously extinguish any pure hatred we had for him over time. Maybe in O'Neill taking his rigid and predictable team and making it perform effectively, his own personal self-doubting wounds have been opened up and he is reacting ultra defensively without rationale.
It seems extremely unlikely to us now that he will be remembered with great affection here from this moment on in. If he can just stop with these self-pitying, increasingly cringeworthy statements then he may well be able to preserve that C.V and make it appeal to a Premier League club. He is frantically digging his own grave though, and at last it seems the national public and press are starting to appreciate the illogical nonsense we had to put up with on a weekly basis. To attack the fans, to call us BRUTAL and to continually use the geordie thing as a pathetic smokescreen for his failings, even four months after losing his job, is nothing short of speech-snatching and it is stirring up unnecessary hatred. I won't bore you with the whole ‘Stokoe being a Geordie thing', because we all know it to be true. So does he deep down, I'm sure of it.