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Steve Bruce, simple philosophies and the cabbage treatment

·6-min read

QUID GAME

Oh my God, they mutually consented Steve Bruce! Yep, after all the chatter on social media disgraces, The Fiver can confirm that its cultural references are indeed still stuck in the 1990s. We’re not the only ones living in the past, though. Newcastle fans will hope that Bruce’s departure will herald a return to the glory days under Kevin Keegan, when the team lived by a simple philosophy: however many you score, we’ll score one fewer.

Bruce has been a P45 on legs for a while now. Let’s be honest: when Channel 5 set aside an entire year in the TV schedule for the series Britain’s Billion Biggest JFK Moments, him leaving Newcastle won’t be on the list. The only vague point of interest is whether the decision to allow Bruce to manage Newcastle against Spurs on Sunday, his 1,000th game, was an act of generosity or sadism. The statement that accompanied his exit was positive enough, even if it did use football’s favourite euphemism with a deadpan expression. Inanimate objects never tend to give much away. “Newcastle United can confirm that Steve Bruce has left his position as head coach by mutual consent,” it teased. “[The club] would like to place on record its gratitude to Steve for his contribution and wishes him well for the future.”

Newcastle are already looking for his replacement, and The Fiver understands they have whittled their longlist down to the final 487 candidates. The former Roma manager Paulo Fonseca is odds-on favourite and would be a good fit – his style of play makes Keegan look like a disciple of catenaccio by comparison. Bruce, though, is well out, having been treated despicably for the past couple of years, and even a £7m pay-off won’t completely heal his soul. (Mind you, The Fiver has just started daydreaming about what we could get up to with seven marigolds, and we think we might be about to cry.) Some of the happiest memories of his life, of going to St James’ Park as a kid with his late father, are forever compromised.

“I think this might be my last job,” he told the Telegraph. “It’s not just about me; it’s taken its toll on my whole family because they are all Geordies and I can’t ignore that. By the time I got to Newcastle, I thought I could handle everything thrown at me but it has been very, very tough. To never really be wanted, to feel that people wanted me to fail, to read people constantly saying I would fail, that I was useless, a fat waste of space, a stupid, tactically inept cabbage-head or whatever. And it was from day one.”

Crikey, we didn’t realise he read The Fiver. Sorry Steve, it was just b@nter.

LIVE ON BIG WEBSITE!

Join Scott Murray from 8pm BST for hot MBM coverage of Manchester United 2-1 Atalanta in Big Cup, while Rob will be on hand for Chelsea 2-0 Malmö.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“It’s farcical but what’s frustrating from my perspective is we’re still trying to play short on a pitch where the ball’s not even moving or rolling” – Bolton boss Ian Evatt is probably still trying to dry off after their 3-0 League One defeat at leaders Plymouth finished in a downpour and flooded pitch, with this chef’s kiss of a final goal.

FIVER LETTERS

“Re: verbal misuse in the commentary box (Fiver letters passim). My enjoyment of the game is spoiled, briefly, when a commentator says an attempt on goal has been ‘saved by the woodwork’. Does this imply the post or crossbar has deliberately repositioned itself? Could VAR be used to see if the frame of the goal is more flexible than we think?” – Liam Stevens.

“The commentary examples sent me into a tailspin over my own personal pet peeve, the old ‘great finish … except for the offside’. The offside is the finish, and anything after that is irrelevant until play resumes. As far as I know, I’m plenty of fun at parties” – Daniel Stauss.

“Re: thrashings (Fiver letters passim). Back in the day, the local pub team played an inter-league double-header against a team from Barnsley; we were from Oldham. The first game was played on Oldham Athletic’s plastic pitch and finished a creditable 2-2 draw. Shortly after we played the return where, due to player call-offs, I was deployed as a striker in borrowed boots and our very un-athletic manager went in goal, complete with his flat cap as the keeper had a better offer. My strike partner was Tony Naylor, who went on to have a lower-league career with Crewe and Port Vale, among others. It started well with us going 3-1 up, Naylor with two and me an outrageously offside one. Then a cricket match happened. It was a schools final, whose boundary encroached on to our pitch so cricket stopped play. Our players drifted off to the bar and, by the time we resumed, were less than enthusiastic. We went on to lose 21-3” – Andy Worthington.

Send your letters to the.boss@theguardian.com. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’ the day is … Liam Stevens.

RECOMMENDED LISTENING

Here’s the latest Football Weekly podcast.

NEWS, BITS AND BOBS

A 63-year-old Belgian Manchester City fan is in intensive care after being attacked, apparently by supporters of Club Brugge, after the 5-1 victory.

A trial is under way of the French international Karim Benzema, who is accused of involvement in an alleged attempt to blackmail Mathieu Valbuena with a sex tape.

Lazio have suspended falconer Juan Bernabe – the man in charge of flying the club’s eagle mascot before games – after he was filmed at the stadium cheering for Benito Mussolini.

Newcastle have urged fans to avoid dipping back into the tea-towel draw for games from now on.

PSG continue to underwhelm their way through the season, but are still finding ways to win after beating Leipzig 3-2. “The most important thing is that we won,” sniffed Marquinhos. “We suffered. You have to suffer.”

Jürgen Klopp has paid his dues, is in the mood and he and his guys are gonna shake the room after their 3-2 Big Cup success at Atlético. “The dirty points are often the most important, and they were dirty tonight,” he growled. “That wasn’t our best football but it was an important step.”

Queen’s Celtic fans have been getting their message across to Uefa after the 2-0 Big Vase win over Ferencvaros was brought forward to a 3.30pm kick-off on Tuesday.

And Yeovil Town are through to the FA Cup first round, despite Tom Knowles’s shanked spot-kick hitting a steward during their shoot-out win at Weymouth.

STILL WANT MORE?

Louise Taylor on Steve Bruce, a human shield who was out of his depth.

Malmö manager Jon Dahl Tomasson gets his chat on with Jacob Steinberg.

Suzanne Wrack fears an advisory group on the future of women’s football won’t get sufficient say on the World Cup proposals.

And if it’s your thing … you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And INSTACHAT, TOO!

HOT TICKETS IN THAT LONDON THIS FRIDAY

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