Steve Bruce V Graham Potter - Different Attitudes, Same Objectives

It's all about perception for Newcastle and Brighton
10:01, 21 Sep 2019

Steve Bruce has had a testing start to life at boyhood club Newcastle.

The Magpies fanbase rightly want to aim as high as possible and will hope to challenge the top 10 as a minimum target, whether that is achievable right now or not. So to say they were more than underwhelmed when the 58-year-old was appointed as boss this summer is an understatement.

Unfortunately for Bruce, his reputation precedes him, however fairly or unfairly that has been garnered. In the modern Premier League era, whenever he, or a Mark Hughes, an Alan Pardew or a Sam Allardyce have got a new job, football fans have seemingly rolled their collective eyes.

“Him again? He’s not done anything. Give someone else a chance,” has been the general cry as new up-and-coming managers have apparently been getting overlooked.

Bruce et al were ‘dinosaurs’ according to many, behind the times, using the same old tired techniques which continually failed to lead to any consistent, long-term results.

On Saturday evening, when Newcastle welcome Brighton to St James’ Park, Steve Bruce comes up against Seagulls boss Graham Potter - the complete antithesis to the stereotypical older, standard top-division manager.

Inventive and full of fresh ideas, Potter only turned 44 in May and is seen as a forward-thinking coach.

At Ostersunds in Sweden, he was credited for his interesting approach, which included players taking lessons in reindeer husbandry and the squad putting on a production of Swan Lake for the local community. Potter also had a pilates instructor and a social coach among his staff.

Earning a move to Swansea, he began building something and laying really positive foundations at the Liberty Stadium. The club were seemingly getting back on track before he departed for the promised land of the Premier League.

Not only was Potter brave enough to work abroad before taking on a role in the Championship but his journey has earned him plenty of kudos in footballing circles, battling his way down a lesser-used path to earn his right to be considered as a Premier League-quality boss.

Bruce, meanwhile, is in his 11th managerial role and, having moved from job to job with often-alarming regularity, he is not really perceived to be among the more progressive of leaders.

Against Arsenal, the Newcastle boss admitted he made a mistake by failing on the basics when he introduced Jetro Willems, a summer signing from Eintracht Frankfurt, into the midfield before quickly telling him to go to left-back.

Confusion reigned on the team and the Gunners scored as the disorientated Magpies tried to get their set-up in order.

Of course, Potter could so easily make the same error in a game but, unfortunately for Bruce, it just added fuel to the narrative and criticism he has to contend with on a daily basis in the Newcastle goldfish bowl.

It is all about the perception.

Newcastle and Brighton will likely be battling to beat the drop all season if early results are anything to go by.

They took on very different recruitment approaches in the summer and it will be interesting to see whether it’s the old, or the new, which wins the day on Saturday and, more importantly, come May.

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