Sympathy for Bruce, anger at Newcastle fans and more mails….

Date published: Wednesday 20th October 2021 7:31 - Joe Williams

Newcastle boss Steve Bruce rubbing his eye

The Mailbox has sympathy for Steve Bruce. Plus, Ten Hag to Man Utd, McArthur v Griezmann and lots more.

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Best wishes to Bruce
There have been so many mails recently about Newcastle, the new owners, Bruce, etc. and it has been really interesting to see the divide across all fans but surely we can all agree that Bruce’s farewell statement makes for very, very sad reading. For a 60 year-old man to say “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” is beyond ridiculous. To hear him talk about his life, death in the family, and how it seems his wife was his only support mechanism is really harrowing. You can say all you like about how much he has earned and how his efforts are failing the club but this is a respected manager, that has 1000 games led under his belt. He doesn’t deserve this, and to be honest no manager does. I get there’s banter (at Anfield I recall our fans singing “he’s got a big fat head” and him laughing in acknowledgement. Not the first or last time he’s heard it), but that statement really does show how crap it must be as a manager at times. Knowing you’re not wanted at the club by hundreds of thousands of people despite doing all you can to bring it success. I for one feel sorry for him. It is the right decision to move him on, and I hope he’s had enough compensation to live the rest of his life happy. And I’m a Liverpool fan!
Steve (more of a cucumber head), Liverpool > Wales


Why no love for Ten Hag?
Whenever talk turns to OGS being replaced, the frequent question asked is “Well who would replace him?” Names like Zidane and Conte are thrown out there, although both of those have potential flaws. Simeone’s name was put forward  in the mailbox today. Clearly he’d be an outstanding candidate, although not if they want to play “The United Way”, and is it a job he would want?

While those 3 would do a better job than OGS, there is an outstanding candidate available who I rarely see mentioned as a contender. Erik Ten Hag. His track record is great. He did an fantastic job at Utrecht before taking the Ajax job. At Ajax, he’s built several excellent teams, made it to within a minute of the Champions League final, knocking out serval top teams along the way. Although they haven’t made the knockout stage since, this season they certainly will do following the 4-0 demolition of Dortmund last night.

This season they’re top of the Ducth league having scored 32 goals and conceded 2. In the Champions League they’ve scored 11 and conceded just 1 in 3 games.

On top of all that, he’s constantly having to rebuild a team. Ajax have sold over £400m worth of players and spent less than £200m to replace them in Ten Hag’s time as manager. Yet despite that constant rebuilding, they’ve achieved great success.

In summary, he’s won trophies, managed a club where expectations are sky high, been successful in Europe, developed young players, has great transfer acumen and plays attacking football. Seriously, what’s not to like?
Mike, LFC, London


Cold Trafford…
After that annoying Brentford result, things been OKAY to put it mildly, we are locked in battle with the oil money bags at the top of the table and the CL group has been navigated well. Simeone’s Atleti has been a pain as far as we are concerned and it felt satisfying to see him annoyed and bolt to the tunnel.

But As a Liverpool fan, one of the best joys in life is when you beat ManU, be it the PL, UCL (Have the two met in the competition?) Or the EL; especially after your smug brother and friends have lived through the Fergie years!

But strangely enough, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, there’s no real excitement or anxiousness leading up to Sunday’s game at Old Trafford. Mind you, it’s quite possible that Ole’s team could beat us on the day but eh, it’s May that matters.

What a weird thing to feel as a Liverpool fan, I once disliked Fergie for what he did for ManU and I once again dislike Ole for what he has done to ManU, for albeit different reasons. Maybe I care about the foes than their own Gary Neville does.
Mihir. Mumbai. LFC. (Can’t believe how much support Ole has from the ManU alumni)


McArthur v Griezmann
I’m genuinely baffled by the interpretation of the laws of the game and how inconsistent the philosophy behind the use of VAR is.

Griezmann gets red against Liverpool, harshly in my view for trying to cushion the ball at a height deemed dangerous. He’s looking at the ball and appears not to see or notice Firmino there or coming in. But you can see what he’s trying to do and if he was really swinging his leg and connected, Firmino would have had his head cracked open like Jimenez or Cech. And this is where I thought the ref was a bit too quick to show red but it happens. I’m amazed he was not asked to review it, that there was not the slightest element of doubt with the VAR officials and it appears they took the strictest interpretation and decided that there was no clear and obvious error.

Contrast this with McArthur’s “tackle” on Saka that would not look out of place in Sonny Corleone’s “chastisement” of his brother-in-law. Dean showed a yellow card, which meant he had a view of the incident. I’d be charitable and say perhaps from his angle, that’s what it looked like, a horribly mistimed clearance.

But I would have to say that maybe Dean got the only angle where it does not appear like McArthur was determined to hurt Saka. From all the replays I saw, Saka was clearly in McArthur’s sights, and clearly some part of Saka’s body was in the way and clearly if McArthur swung his leg in that manner he was going to clean Saka out. Dean could have shown a red and then allow VAR to check. Or he could have asked VAR to check anyway?

But even if Dean could not, or did not check with VAR, I’m appalled that those in the VAR room watched all the replays and did not ask Dean to take a look.

And here is the confusion. Does intent matter? If it does, Griezmann was hard done by in my view. If it does not, McArthur should be serving a 3-game ban.
Tired (of Dean and VAR) Gooner

16 conclusions
Haven’t done this before, let’s see if I can get to sixteen!

Diego Simeone is not a nice person.

Peter Walton is a waste of space.

Scrap “not a nice person”, Diego Simeone is a really dislikeable person.

Peter Walton has probably always done what he was told.

Scrap really dislikeable, Diego Simeone was horrible as a player and is even worse as a manager.

Peter Walton always selects the “neither agree or disagree” option when completing surveys.

As we saw in the recent Nations League games, VAR is operated and implemented far better on the continent than it is here, Madrid’s first goal perhaps should have been ruled out but Matips’ reaction was not one of somebody who thought Lemar played a significant role but rules are rules so maybe a mistake was made (personally I’d disallow this as I would have done Firmino’s second on saturday).  The other two calls were spot on though, unintentional or not, Griezmanns’ foot was dangerously high and had their penalty stood then we need 10 – 15 per game, award one at every corner and every free kick hit into the penalty area.

I can’t think of any other occasion where Klopp has made a half time substitution, exactly the right thing to do. Fabinho was probably earmarked for a start on Sunday but Klopp, like many of the players, got caught up in the atmosphere and intensity of the game, a draw or even defeat would probably not have too much effect on qualification but his plans went out the window and the game took on greater importance, “winning dirty” gave him huge satisfaction, especially against Johnny Cash.

After the recent Balon D’Or “snub” for Mendy and the outcry after an excellent display v Brentford, do the same people now expect Alisson to be nominated, having watched Simon Mignolet fail to stop any MCFC shots on target earlier, it was a great example of how far this Liverpool squad has improved since those days.

There were two excellent (?) pieces of commentary,  “Salah will not get the same space and time he had v Watford, there are two Madrid players on him every time”, McManaman adds that Lemar will help out as well.  Two minutes later, Salah shimmies past all three and with the aid of a deflection, puts Liverpool one up.  He did however redeem himself later by observing that Simeone can go from 0-100 in an instant but from 100-0 in the same time when confronted by an official.

Liverpool continue to set records and I heard someone say that “records are the road signs on the route to success”, as true as that may be, if they continue to in this way there could well be a stop sign or road closure ahead. They have only played 3 “top tier” teams so far, drawing two and last nights’ roller coaster win, they need to find a way to control games better and a series of 1-0 wins may not be a bad thing.  They will nearly always find a goal but a clean sheet ensures defeats are avoided.

A win in the reverse fixture guarantees qualification, a draw depending on how the other game goes, this would give Liverpool a great opportunity to give their squad players a chance to stake a claim and de-bunk the “no squad depth” narrative, another possible benefit is that it would put Atleti in a precarious position and the sooner they’re gone the better!

Scrap horrible, Diego Simeone is a despicable human being, his pantomime villain act is tiresome, the largest technical area in the world is still too small, the black suit, the constant arm waving and “hissy” fits, the running down the tunnel, he’s a playground bully who shits himself when stood up to, no doubt he barged open the dressing room door, kicked some water bottles, knocked everything off the treatment table, screamed at the top of his voice and slunk into a corner telling everyone to “just leave me alone, go away”.  I don’t think it’s passion, it’s all pre-meditated and calculated.

Peter Walton on the other hand couldn’t predetermine the two possible outcomes of a coin toss.  His “Marco Van Basten is on the panel” retort when both Lescott and Crouch questioned the ability of the games “lawmakers” was pathetic, as was his “I can’t read the mind of Matip, so I don’t know what he was thinking and therefore the goal should stand”.

Scrap despicable, Diego Simeone is a bell end.

Peter Walton musn’t have a sofa as he’s more than happy sitting on a fence.
Howard (he probably thinks he’s a  Bond villain) Jones


The ironing is delicious
Wait, did we just out-sh*thouse Atletico in Madrid?

In fairness, the only reason I can see for the referee overturning the penalty decision against Jota was because he knew the Atleti players were trying to influence him and, I suspect, he went to the monitor, not to judge Jota’s barge but to look at Jiminez’s reaction and to see whether he was exaggerating the contact.

The ironing truly is delicious.
Neal Boland, LFC, Dublin

Pitiful Champions League commentary
Surely one of the worst commentary performances in recent memory last night in terms of common sense judgement and football nous. Does Mcmanaman hate Liverpool nowadays or just love Madrid teams? Let me count the ways:

1. Thomas Lamar clearly offside and clearly  interfering with play by jumping as the ball approaches for Atletico’s first. Commentary team are baffled as to why VR was needed at all as if, like a bygone phrase would say “they didn’t see the incident” despite having instant replays flash across their eyes.

2. Firmino gets studs in his face and the commentary team are baffled that this is a sending off offense “because Griezmann had his eyes on the ball the whole time”. First time I’ve ever heard “where you’re looking” as justification for a blatant high kick to the face. It’s irrelevant if  “you’re going for the ball” like a prancing ballerina rather than a footballer. You know Simeone would have been gesticulating for a red if Firmino had planted his studs on Greizmann’s face so the double standards here are breathtaking…

3. Milner’s yellow card for a slight shove on Trippier. It was so obviously not a yellow given how  soft the contact was and Trippier’s own wink after the fact confirmed it but somehow, the intrepid rose coloured irises of this duo seemed to think this was a more justified card than Griezman’s.

4. The Jota Penalty incidents. One was a clear shove to stop the player getting to the ball and fair play to the commentators they got this one right. The second was an obvious dive with absolutely minimal contact which wouldn’t be called a foul anywhere else on the pitch if the ref had a good view of it. Yet again the commentary team doubles down and reckons it should be given when really the egregious contact happens after the player has already dived off the 10m platform and Jota is scrambling not to fall over as well.

I don’t think the commentary team intended to be part of the night’s entertainment in quite this way but wow….well done for the demonstration of incompetence, in its own way almost as breathless as the game. Thankfully the more rationale and measured folk in the studio have much more thoughtful takes on it all.
Miguel L. – that was a hell of a win


To circumvent
Lee in previous mailbox said that other clubs had circumvented the sponsorship so it was unfair to change the rules now. A quick look at the Cambridge dictionary says that circumvent is to cleverly or illegally avoid something, so the other clubs were clever now it’s illegal.

This is the thing with legality things change just look at some of the reprehensible stuff in the past which you can no longer do slavery , child labour,  beating and worse to your wife, drink driving and taking cocaine.

I appreciate this is taking things to absurd levels in comparison to dodgy sponsorship, but that is because those clubs have been deemed to have leveraged a significant financial advantage through this circumvention . This has resulted in lengthy and costly arbitration action undertaken by the governing bodies who have decided making it illegal is the best course of action.

Is this fair on NUFC probably not is it fair for the majority of the league yes, hence the vote. That is the thing with majority rule there are winners and losers, so as is often said for other objections ” you lost the vote get over it”.
Gary in Germany

Luis Suarez looks glum

Luis Suarez helped me become a better person
I saw James’s mail about wishing that Suarez would return to Liverpool for a last hurrah, and it reminded me of the debt that I owe to Luis Suarez. As a Liverpool fan, he gave me so many moments of joy (YouTube it if you need a reminder, he scored screamer after screamer) that it affected the way I perceived him, and I sought to look the other way when he was banned for constantly referring to Evra as “negro” (the reason for the ban has been forgotten over the years by many), and tried to put it down as a “cultural difference”, but the truth is (it seems to me) that his competitive nature means that there is no line he wouldn’t cross to gain an advantage. Quite how this led him to bite so many people is beyond me, because where’s the advantage in that?

I can still picture him, post-Chiellini nibble, holding his mouth like he was the victim of a shoulder attack from the Italian. When he was banned, there was loads of self-pity, and he was deified in Uruguay. It was at this point that the penny finally dropped with me that in actual fact, Luis Suarez is a complete cock who was completely unworthy of my admiration, regardless of the amazing things he could do with a football.

I was genuinely delighted when Barcelona took him away from us.

There was so much more – the attempt to force a move to Arsenal, with a pre-conceived and deeply cynical media campaign in Uruguay that summer. The diving. The histrionics.

Let me be clear: Luis Suarez is an inconceivable twat.

But for years, because of his footballing excellence, I looked past that. And that’s what this ridiculous game can do to rational human beings. I’m Mat, and I’m a footballholic. I am spoilt at the moment, because the Liverpool team seems to be full of nice fellas with a manager who is worthy of my pathetic admiration. But it’ll come again. There will be arseholes in my team, and I will struggle again to recognise them if they can kick a bag of leather accurately.

But hopefully, thanks to Luis Suarez, my sight will be that little bit clearer.
Mat (hinge)

Thank Vieira for showing us the answer isn’t Arteta
Cast your mind back to the evening of 16 September 1996.

It was a balmy Monday night in North London in which Pat Rice took temporary charge of an Arsenal team who had added a couple of signings to their ranks ahead of match against Sheffield Wednesday.

Wednesday took the lead but this would be the game in which Rice turned to his bench and brought on our new number four.

Most of us didn’t know who he was. I’d gambled that season and got my home shirt printed with this guy’s name even though I had never heard of him but Vieira took the field, the fans took to him and the rest is history.

For someone who had never played in the Premier League, Vieira took to it like a duck to water and showed up some Arsenal players who had been at it for years.

On Monday Vieira did the same to Arteta.

He took on a club in a mess due to all the departures and has steadied the ship. You can see what’s he’s trying to do and there is a purpose to everything.

Arteta, on the other hand, lacks any style of play or ambition – it’s been two years since the club plumped for him over Vieira and I can’t think why.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Vieira is the answer but I think the club should be grateful to Vieira for showing us all that the answer most certainly isn’t Mikel Arteta.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London


Steve Bruce is a disloyal (redacted) part 2
Thanks for the Steve Bruce facts and figures. But you left out “reason for leaving”, so I’ve done it for you.

Sheffield United

July 2, 1998 – May 17, 1999

Days in charge: 219

Reason for leaving: walked out and a week later started at…..


May 24, 1999 – October 16, 2000

Days in charge: 511

Reason for leaving: sacked


April 4, 2001 – May 29, 2001

Days in charge: 88

Reason for leaving: walked out to go to…..

Crystal Palace

May 31, 2001 – November 2, 2001

Days in charge: 154

Reason for leaving: walked out to go to…..


December 12, 2001 – November 23, 2007

Days in charge: 2168

Reason for leaving: given permission to speak to…..


26 November,  2007 – June 3, 2009

Days in charge: 589

Reason for leaving: given permission to speak to…..


June 3, 2009 – November 30, 2011

Days in charge: 882

Reason for leaving: sacked

Hull City

June 8, 2012 – July 22, 2016

Days in charge: 1482

Reason for leaving: walked out in frustration at the club’s direction (coincidentally just after having been interviewed for the England job)

Aston Villa

October 12, 2016 – October 3, 2018

Days in charge: 721

Reason for leaving: sacked

Sheffield Wednesday

February 1, 2019 – July 15, 2019

Days in charge: 165

Reason for leaving: walked out to go to…..


July 17, 2019 – present

Days in charge: 826

Reason for leaving: “left by mutual consent”


Walked out to go directly to another club (x3)

Walked out and started at another club a week later (x1)

Given permission to speak to, and started immediately at, another club (x2)

Walked out in frustration at the club’s direction (coincidentally just after having been interviewed for the England job) (x1)

Sacked (x3)

“Left by mutual consent” (x1)

I’ll make no further comment.
Mark Lewis (SWFC)


Early losers
As someone who attends Milan games as often as I can and was recently at the Milan vs Atletico game in the last round, I have to take issue with your early losers piece.

While Liverpool are admittedly a step above this team at the moment and dominated the first match at Anfield, Milan demonstrated they are more than a match for Atleti during the game at San Siro. With Milan dominating the first 30 minutes and a goal to the good (really should have been 2 up if Rebic hadn’t missed a 1-on-1) the referee decided to avenge the discarding of his fellow countryman, Hakan Calhanoglou, by Milan that summer to Inter, by inexplicably sending off Kessie after just 29 minutes for 2 innocuous challenges in the centre of the pitch. He then compounded a quite shocking performance by awarding a last minute penalty for Atleti which never should have been. Milan, with their full complement of players, would have won that game 2 or 3-0.

The Porto game was without a doubt Milan’s worst performance of the season and although Porto deserved to win the game on balance of play, their goal should have been disallowed for a clear foul on Bennacer. The foul was identical to the one which resulted in a Liverpool penalty against Atleti, yet it was not even reviewed by VAR. Milan unquestionably should have performed far better, however there are some mitigating circumstances. Although unlucky with injuries last season, things are even worse at the moment with the team currently in the midst of an injury crisis, robbing them of their playmaker, his backup, the starting goalkeeper, Rebic (who has been one of the best players so far this season) and of course the best left-back in the world (Theo). Not to mention Kessie’s suspension for the two yellow cards in the last game and Ibra and Bakayoko just back from injuries themselves.

Contrary to what you write, there will be no fear of potential humiliation engulfing these upcoming games. Sure, Milan might lose to Atleti and Liverpool again, but if Milan can just get some competent officials (big ask) and recover Theo and Brahim (both currently have covid), Rebic, Kessie and call upon a fit Ibra (probably a bigger ask), there is still have an opportunity to at least snatch third place. And if not, well, this team scored twice at Anfield and would have won against Atletico, but for the reasons detailed above, so we may head out of the tournament, but this has by no means been a timid or dispiriting return to the top table!
Pippo, Dublin

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