Newcastle United have failed to win in any of their four league and cup games this season and face Manchester United next, with a section of fans demanding the manager leaves
In November 2011 Steve Bruce was branded a “fat Geordie b******” by disgruntled Sunderland fans. Three days later he was sacked.
On Saturday, now Newcastle manager Bruce was told he was a “sad Mackem b******” as a section of Toon fans chanted: “We want Brucey out…” during the game, scores level.
“Can I turn the relationship around?” Bruce asked himself that dark winter evening at the Stadium of Light. “It’s going to be very very difficult. But I would never walk away.”
The same applies ten years on, although the volume of the Toon protest has not risen to Sunderland levels yet.
Mackem, Geordie, Manc, whatever geographical label used to abuse Bruce and his waistline, you have to admire his ability to soak up pressure. It can’t be good for his mental health, or physical wellbeing.
And far from loosening his grip on the Newcastle job, it will only increase owner Mike Ashley’s solidarity with him, after 14 years of similar treatment
Bruce is now the human punch bag, not the owner. A handy shift of focus.
How do Newcastle players feel as they try to do their best on the pitch, only to have a section of crowd in the Strawberry corner chanting for the managers head at 0-0 and 1-1 in the 25 th , 38 th and 86 th minutes?
Asked about the game, striker Callum Wilson said: “Everyone holds themselves accountable. It has not been a good enough start.
“You have to have big shoulders. We are all hurting. We have to get through this tough patch. They don’t last. We are waiting for it to turn.
“It is disappointing. After three games we should have more. We can’t feel sorry for ourselves.”
Credit to Toon players who perversely seemed energised by the vitriol directed at their boss.
They lifted themselves in the first half after a dreadful opening half hour, Wilson scored after the break, in the 90 th minute, four minutes after negative chanting, Allan Saint-Maximin struck.
Bruce looked fed up saying fans are “entitled to their opinion, and I find it very, very disappointing.”
What is also disappointing is how Newcastle have taken the lead four times at home in two league games this season, and come away with just a point.
Mohamed Elyounoussi pegged the first goal back. Newcastle have given away three penalties already this season, two down to skipper Jamaal Lascelles, who scythed through Adam Armstrong. James Ward-Prowse tucked the spot kick in the 96 th minute.
Bruce says got a lift from his players. “My job is to get a response from the team at half time. That was pretty evident.”
Playing and managing Newcastle is a tough gig. So is watching them, at times.
The key is to feed off the chaos and ensure performances rise to the bait, rather than shrivel.
Bruce isn’t the first unpopular boss of recent times. Alan Pardew – who took the Toon to fifth and a European quarter final – walked away to Crystal Palace, his terrace relationship beyond repair.
Even the now saintly Sir Bobby Robson was once caught on the internal St James’ Park TV feed having a pop at a grumbling crowd, after his side slipped to fifth place!
Steve Bruce will, no doubt, keep taking it on the chin.