Do stats show Steve Bruce can manage an attack-first Newcastle?

Steve Bruce, Manager of Newcastle United. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Steve Bruce, Manager of Newcastle United. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images) /

Steve Bruce has been managing for over 20 years and we look at some of his numbers to determine if he can play the attacking soccer Newcastle may transition to.

As rumors continue to swirl regarding Newcastle United’s future, one of the uncertainties going forward will be who is patrolling the touchline at St. James’ Park. Steve Bruce has not been overwhelmingly accepted at Newcastle United in his first season and with lofty expectations coming in the future, there are serious doubts if he’s the right man for the job and if he will even get a chance to be the guy.

Let’s take a look at some of the stats, per Transfrmarkt, to see if he can adjust to the potential of an attack-first Newcastle side. (Bruce has managed in the first and second division of English soccer since the 1998-99 season and we will only look at stats from league regular season play)

For Birmingham City, where he returned as a manager after playing there, Bruce never had a positive goal differential in the top flight. When in the Championship with Birmingham, his side put up impressive numbers with 67 goals for and 42 goals against, earning promotion with a second-place finish. Despite the impressive finish on the table, the club had no players in the top five goal scorers for the league and they finished sixth in goals scored and the second-fewest goals conceded.

His two seasons with Wigan Athletic in the EPL ended in 11th and 14th finishes. In just 11 matches for Huddersfield Town, Bruce was sacked with the club sitting at the bottom of the table and had eight goals for and 22 goals against.

When managing Sunderland, his Black Cats conceded 56 goals in back-to-back Premier League seasons. They also allowed 15 goals in 13 matches before he was let go in November of 2011.

Hull City split his four seasons in charge evenly between the Premier League and the Championship. Not surprisingly, their numbers were considerably better in the second division. They racked up 130 goals and only conceded 87 in two seasons. In the Premier League, those numbers reversed with the Tigers allowing 104 goals and scoring 71 times.

Bruce only managed Aston Villa in the Championship. His only full season at the helm they recorded an impressive 72 for/42 against tally. In the partial season, that saw him sacked and a cabbage launched at him, Bruce’s Villa side conceded 18 goals in 11 matches, scoring 19.

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To look at the overall theme, it’s no surprise that Bruce’s sides scored at a solid clip in the second division but didn’t see the same success when he was in the Premier League. In fairness, he didn’t manage any juggernaut clubs that would be expected to play high-flying soccer. But, it’s unlikely that he’s the guy to manage an attacking-first, ambitious Newcastle United side after the takeover. The numbers would need to be overwhelming in his past to deserve that chance and they certainly are not.