Arsenal fans know what it is like to go on a long run of not being able to win any game, as we did before Christmas, but we have since turned that around by going five games unbeaten, including an extra time win over Newcastle in the FA Cup last week.
Newcastle gave us a very tough game that night and made us work hard to progress, but just a few days later the Magpies managed to lose 1-0 away at rock-bottom Sheffield United giving the Blades their very first win off the season.
As you can imagine, Steve Bruce was not very happy with that performance and has attacked his players with a full-blown diatribe in an attempt to get the team motivated again against Arsenal on Monday. Bruce was quoted as saying by the Official NUFC website: “I’ve let them (the players) be comfortable but the gloves are off now. I want to do it my way. We were absolutely frigging hopeless the other night. Absolute sh*te.
“The one thing we can’t deny is our performance in the first half at Sheffield United was woeful. I picked the team and ultimately, carry the can. I accept that… unfortunately in the 18 months I’ve been here, that’s happened too often.
“The performance the other night was not acceptable to any of us. If I was a supporter, I would be asking ‘what the hell is going on?’
“I can understand the frustration and anger of supporters. I picked the team – it’s my responsibility, totally.
“Have I lost the dressing room? I’m the wrong person to ask that, but I see nothing wrong with them against Arsenal, Liverpool and Leicester. But the hand grenade has been thrown in when we’re expected to win too many times on my watch.
“I picked the wrong team on Tuesday, I accept that. I understand and accept the criticism – if I was a fan I would feel the same.
“I’ve made a career of never giving in so I won’t (quit). [NB: this is Bruce’s eleventh managerial role – by our reckoning, he resigned from eight of his previous ten.]
“I’ve had the support of the club since I walked through the door. A continuous, daily conversation with the managing director – and that hasn’t changed.
“I will keep trying to do my utmost to make this better.
“(Criticism) has been personal from day one – certain people out there think I shouldn’t have been in the job to start with. All I can do is accept it and try not to be too down with it.
“I understand the supporters’ frustration and anger – I would be the same way – but I keep stressing if you’re in the bottom half of the Premier League, you have to be a bit pragmatic. Now, getting that balance right, I fully, fully understand.
“Have Newcastle been a good watch for years? We’ve been in the bottom half of the Premier League. Now we’re not saying it’s acceptable, but it’s the way it is.
“So we have to have a certain way of defending well, but I agree we have to offer more going forward.
“I expect the players to mirror myself a little bit. I was never blessed with wonderful ability, same as management, but the one thing I expect is a reaction, show some pride in yourself, and never be afraid of hard work.
“At the minute, it’s hard work, but you try not to get too down.
“We are not alone, if you’re in bottom half there will be times when you come under pressure, and this is one of those times.”
Newcastle are not in the relegation zone but if they can lose to Sheff United they can lose to anybody. But alternatively if they beat Arsenal they will only be two points below us.
Let’s hope that Brucey hasn’t motivated them too well…