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Roker Ramble: Bye-bye, Brucey! (He finished tenth, yanow...)

Sad times for fans of football dinosaurs as it’s bye bye Brucey, everything is going wrong at Crawley and there’s a non-Storey at Coventry... all in this week's Ramble!

Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images

Bruce “retires” from “management”

Imagine if Steve Bruce was a company, and people could post their Trust Pilot reviews of him online...

“Never admitted fault, despite multiple complaints (with attached proof) to customer service.”

“Constantly gave staff the day off, and he spent his entire time writing a football detective novel.”

“Bloke down the phone even admitted the gaffer knew they weren’t everyone’s cup of tea.”

“Kept talking about not liking his Geordie roots, for some reason. Isn’t he from Corbridge?”

It’s a shame in many ways that the rumours are rife that Bruce is considering retiring from management. Those hoping for a Lazarus-style return to the hot seat at St James are to be sadly disappointed, as The Mail have reported this week Wallsend’s finest is considering hanging up his... tactics board?

I’m sorry, that can’t be right. Bruce by his own admission knew nothing about tactics.

That he has decided to take this step (if true) is no surprise considering the abuse that he received from West Brom and, chiefly, Newcastle United fans. Being called a “fat Geordie bastard” at the Stadium of Light back in 2012 won’t have helped either.

Sunderland v Chelsea - Premier League
Don’t do it Ellis... ah bollocks
Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

The Ramble in its current guise came into being the same week that the sharp-scythed, female-intolerant homophobes decided to remove the blood, gristle and bone from Newcastle United, leaving it little more than an empty husk to those with a conscience, moral fibre or a shred of empathy.

Sadly, the new overlords decided that the one their supporters so uncharitably called “cabbage heed” (take a look in the mirror, Newcastle fans) was not the man to take the club forward. As such, it was obvious therefore those of a red-and-white persuasion needed some new joy in their lives.

Remember when Mike Ashley said he thought he might be “the one?” My God that man really knew how to dispatch the largest of custard pies to the Geordie Nation; he put on 13 years of performance art that is unlikely to be beaten. Bravo Mike, the method acting by Daniel Day Lewis in My Left Foot had absolutely nothing on your endeavours.

The Geordies were by no means the only ones to get all het up having Bruce in charge. From a Sunderland perspective, watching a team managed by him was a bit like reading the Twitter DMs of an attractive female football presenter. Tactically haphazard, no clear plan, with disappointing results (for all the horny men).

GOOD WILL HUNTING
“It’s not your fault Steve...”
Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

A constant theme throughout his managerial career was the lack of accountability. You suspected he would walk through his front door after another pointless sojourn and his wife would immediately put on the scene from Good Will Hunting where Robin Williams says “it’s not your fault” to Matt Damon over and over again.

Because of course it never was Bruce’s fault. After all, he delivered our highest finish in the Premier League since the Reid years, and were we not reminded of that at every opportunity? Yes it might be true, however it tells but a fraction of the story; the truth is this was a medium-sized underachievement. With players such as Bent, Welbeck, Henderson, Zenden, Mignolet, Malbranque and Mensah in the side, I would bloody well have thought a top 8 finish would have been the expectation - for reference, Fulham did manage it that season.

If you look at the records of managers who have been in the game for a long time, you will generally see that their win-to-loss ratio is weighed far in excess to the former. Losing more games than you have won is not really heard of - especially if you’ve managed over 1,000 games. Well, Bruce came oh so close, guiding his side to victory in only two more games. That’s quite an achievement.

In truth, for all that people say nice things about Brucey, he wasn’t a very good football manager. That he lasted as long as he did is astounding.


Things are getting really weird at Crawley...

What on earth is going on down in Sussex?

Back in April, WAGMI United completed their takeover of the club. In case you didn’t know, they are not a dog-food conglomerate, but rather a bunch of “crypto bros” riding the volatile snake oil that is the cryptocurrency market. Not exactly the best people to be custodians of a football club you might think.

Things are going exactly as you might suspect.

They’re now onto their fourth permanent manager - though John Yems had to go after it turned out he was a nasty, racist toe rag. Kevin Betsy got the boot in October, and former Spurs winger Matt Etherington departed after 32 days in charge.

It was somewhat unfortunate the board described his “appetite for risk” being shared by them on his appointment; this being a maladroit reference to his well-publicised gambling addiction.

Bloody hell, lads.

Darren Byfield then took temporary charge. He wasn’t the only one in the dugout however, as co-Chairman and man with two surnames Preston Johnson joined him for the game against Stevenage. Rumour had it he was overheard asking the fourth official how substitutions worked. You don’t know if I’m joking or not do you?

While this all sounds like a really naff version of Ted Lasso, we haven’t even gotten on to Crawley’s exploits on the pitch. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say the season hasn’t gone the way anyone would have hoped with the Red Devils languishing in 21st place.

From an outside perspective, it appears the club are hurtling towards a black hole, and are unlikely to emerge on the other side.


Same old Storey...

From one absolutely bonkers football club owner to a man who wishes he owns a football club... but never will.

William Storey has completed the story arc that began with his intention to buy Coventry City with his rag-tag band of backers which rumour has it consisted of precisely no one of any standing whatsoever because, breaking news ticker: they were all made up.

This isn’t so much a bullet dodged by the Sky Blues, more likely a direct, devastating nuclear strike.

The lack of scrutiny by the EFL to properly vet football club owners (see WAGMI, above) means I have no confidence some absolute Balloon d’Or like Storey wouldn’t somehow or other fall into a position of influence at a football club.

I would rather have Sooty and Sweep in charge.

Happily Doug King etc al has completed their takeover, but it’s only a matter of time before another club comes up for sale, and Storey kicks into gear once more.

Peterborough United v Coventry City - Sky Bet Championship - Weston Homes Stadium
Coventry fans celebrate as William Storey is banished to the history books of fiction
Photo by Tim Goode/PA Images via Getty Images

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