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Steve Bruce typifies negative soccer – SportsUntapped.com
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Added October 4th, 2010 by Ian

Steve Bruce typifies negative soccer
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It’s no secret that Manchester United is struggling right now. Sure, they’re unbeaten in the English Premier League, but haven’t won a league game on the road. In fact, United has been pretty poor away from the friendly confines of Old Trafford and has blown leads and thrown away points by allowing Fulham and Everton late goals to earn draws. If there’s ever a time to have a go at United, now’s as good as any.

However, Sunderland manager Steve Bruce doesn’t seem to understand. It’s not hard to see why Bruce has failed to win a game against United Manager Alex Ferguson in 16 tries as he just doesn’t have the brains and/or courage to go for a win against his ex-manager. A prime example of Bruce’s negative tactics and unimaginative style was on display for the whole world to see on Oct. 2nd in Sunderland’s game with United.

With Sunderland having home pitch advantage and United missing Wayne Rooney and Ryan Giggs, and with Dmitar Berbatov, Javier Hernandez, and Patrice Evra all on the bench, Bruce had an excellent chance to take the game to United and go for all three points. But instead of going with his regular 4-4-2 formation Bruce decided to take the defensive and easy way out by employing lone striker Darren Bent in a 4-5-1 formation. This was his first mistake, changing tactics because of the opposition.

To be successful in football you have play to your strengths. If Sunderland uses two strikers all season long, why back off against United, especially when they had a depleted lineup? Bent was left all alone up front and failed to receive any decent service with 50-70 yard passes often being hoofed his way. What really showed Bruce’s lack of management skills though, was the fact that striker Asamoah Gyan was sitting on the bench.

Gyan was recently bought for a club-record fee of 13 million pounds and was one of the top performers at the World Cup this summer, playing for Ghana. He’s strong, fast, and powerful, and knows where the net is, scoring two goals for Sunderland already. He’s also been nominated for Africa’s player of the year.

However, in his infinite wisdom, Bruce decided to sit him on the bench for 82 minutes. If Gyan is good enough to be one of the stars of the World Cup he’s sure as hell good enough to be playing for Sunderland and getting eight minutes of action is nothing but a joke.

If Sunderland’s owner decided to shell out 13 million for Gyan, I’m sure he didn’t give it to Bruce to buy a bench warmer. Those players can be had for nothing. He obviously cost a pretty hefty fee because he’s a good player.

But Bruce just doesn’t seem to get it when it comes to the ins and outs of managing and producing winners. It’s ridiculous moves like this that has led him to a woeful 37 per cent winning percentage during his managerial career.

When the final whistle blew and the game ended 0-0, Bruce got exactly what he deserved. But sadly, Sunderland supporters and its owner didn’t.

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9 Responses to “Steve Bruce typifies negative soccer”

  1. Nipper says:

    Please stick to reporting/analysis on sports you know something about. This is complete boll***s. Steve Bruce has been using one striker with two wide players supporting him, or Malbranque just behind him, for most of the season. Saturday’s formation could be classed as a 4-5-1 system, but equally it could be regarded as a 4-3-3, and given the fact that Sunderland dominated the game (as they did against Liverpool at Anfield a week earlier with the same formation) it can hardly be classed as negative. Sir Alex Ferguson even said after the game, that he was happy with a point. Would that be the case if Sunderland had played negatively? Also, Gyan has not played a full game since he arrived because, by his own admission, he was not fit enough. After the World Cup and before he signed for Sunderland, he had trained just twice. He will not be a £13m bench-warmer, you muppet. He simply needs to get match-fit before he begins to start games. Please be a little more informed about your subject next time you contribute

  2. Ian says:

    As a Sunderland supporter I hope you’re happy with your 0-0 draw at home and the loss of two points. You obviously know little of what you talk about as Bruce has always started Welbeck or Frazier Campbell up front as a second striker with Bent all season long. As it says, his 37 per cent winning record tells all we need to know about Bruce.

  3. Nipper says:

    Welbeck has played wide on the left in EVERY league game in which he has featured this season. Campbell suffered an injury which will keep him out for at least six months in only the third game of the season. The tactics WERE NOT changed for the match against Manchester United. The same formation was used in games against Wigan, Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool. Please be more informed. Steve Bruce’s win record is comparable with all the managers who have spent their careers in charge of teams in the bottom half of the Premiership. The fact remains, against Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal, Sunderland had more of the possession and pundits on TV said they deserved to win because they offered more of an attacking threat. That does not come from a negative style of play. I’m sure Sunderland would have taken a point before this weekend’s game, but after the way they dominated the game and created the best chances “with a negative style” I’m sure the players might see it as two points dropped rather than one gained . . . such is life

  4. Nipper says:

    Bruce has not always started Welbeck or Campbell as a second striker. Welbeck was on the bench for the first four games, and in all the matches he has started since, he has been played wide on the left. Campbell was injured (for at least six months) in the third game of the season. Prior to that, he had started wide on the right, as he did for most of last season. Admittedly, he was not played up front much last term because Bruce preferred the pairing of Bent and Jones. The formation WAS NOT changed for the game against Manchester United. It has been used for the majority of this season, and resulted in Sunderland dominating games against Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal, beating Manchester City and drawing away from home with ten men against Wigan. That WOULD NOT happen for a team using negative tactics. All I ask is that you are more informed before you comment. I’m sure most fans would have accepted one point ahead of last weekend’s game, but some, and some players, will feel it was two points dropped after the way they dominated the match. But, hey, that’s life . . .

  5. Ian says:

    Well, not picking on Sunderland, but Welbeck started the Sept 11 game against Wigan, which was the fourth game of the season, and then again a week later against Arsenal. But let’s face the facts here. Every game has started with Bent and either Campbell or Welbeck as forwards, other than Aug. 29 against Man City, when Bent was out. Welbeck couldn’t play against United obviously because he’s on loan and Campbell is injured. That leaves Cygan as the obvious partner for Bent. however, Cygan was on the bench for 82 minutes and Bent started alone up front. I don’t care if Welbeck or Campbell started wide on wide left or in the east stands, they started up front as forwards. Against United, Bent was on his own. That, my friend, is a change in formation and the tactics of a scared manager.

  6. Nipper says:

    Look, please get your facts right. That’s my point. Bent was not out against Manchester City. He scored the winning goal, for Christ’s sake. As for Cygan, I had no idea he had signed for Sunderland. If he did, he certainly hasn’t played a single second for the first team, the reserves, the youths or the ladies team. When Welbeck or Campbell have started, they have more often than not played wide as part of a five-man midfield. That is a fact. There was no change in formation. I’m beginning to repeat myself, but it doens’t seem to register. The formation was the same used against Man City (when Bent played), against Arsenal, against Liverpool and against Wigan. Just because a player is a striker it does not mean he has to play up front in every game. Dirk Kuyt plays a similar role for Liverpool – as part of their midfield, supporting a lone forward in Torres

  7. Ian says:

    Yes Nipper, I apologize, I missed Bent’s name on the game sheet against City. Fact still is Gyan was on the bench for 82 minutes of that game against United when he should have been on the pitch with both Campbell and Welbeck out.

  8. Nipper says:

    Gyan has carried out an interview with local radio today in which he says: “Bruce knows what he is doing . . . He has seen that my fitness levels are not up to standard, so he did not put pressure on me.” He was grateful for not being thrown in to the heat of Premiership battle when he clearly wasn’t up to it.
    If a manager cannot afford to risk a half-fit £13m striker, cannot play a loan player against his parent club and is without an injured striker, then surely the best he can do is play a lone striker with two wide midfielders or one close to him through the middle (Malbranque, in the Man Utd game).
    As I said in my first post, Gyan had not played a full game since he arrived because, by his own admission, he was not fit enough. After the World Cup and before he signed for Sunderland, he had trained just twice, he said. Today’s interview simply confirms that.
    Bruce said in pre-season that he might look to change the formation, and whether you class it as 4-5-1 or 4-3-3 (I think it’s fluid depending on whether the team is attacking or defending) it is certainly more effective than last season.
    I’m pretty sure there will be games this season when both Bent and Gyan are unleashed as a front two, but I also anticipate that there will be some when either of those two will be asked to play out wide in a five-man midfield. My opinion is that Gyan is better suited to do so, but Bent did it against Wigan after Lee Cattermole was sent off, and that resulted in Gyan scoring a great goal.
    I’ll repeat myself and stand by the notion that a single striker is not necessarily a negative tactic. Most nations in the World Cup adopted it. Liverpool use it, Chelsea use it with Drogba un front and strikers in Anelka and Malouda out wide, Arsenal do it and Man Utd have used it repeatedly.
    Last season, Sunderland were one of the few (Spurs, also) that used two strikers in most games, but Bruce realised how fragile the team was, especially away from home, and pledged pre-season to rectify the problem. I think he has done that

  9. Ian says:

    A single striker is sometimes good enough, depending who’s supporting him. If Bruce shells out 13 million quid for Gyan and sits him on the bench while he’s fit enough to play, then he’s a complete prat. Only time will tell if he does this. In addition, if a player isn’t fit to play then he’s not fit to play, period. None of this “fit enough for the bench only’ rubbish.
    Gyan should have started the game and came off when he’d had enough. You should start your best players and try to gain the lead, not sit them on the bench and use them when you’re desperate for a goal. This puts more pressure on the player and he’s more likely to suffer an injury trying to do too much.
    That’s my opinion and yours differs, no problem, that’s what makes sports so interesting.

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