Newcastle United shuffling Walking Dead-style towards the abyss | Football


Say what you like about Steve Bruce but the Newcastle manager is no quitter. True, there was that time he quit Sheffield United to join Huddersfield. And the time after that he quit Plucky Little Wigan to join Crystal Palace, a club he would later quit to join Birmingham City. He almost quit them to join Newcastle, only to stay for a bit longer before quitting to return to Wigan. He went on to quit them for a second time to take over at Sunderland, who fired him before he quit his next job at Hull City and went to Aston Villa. They eventually sacked him too and he accepted the manager’s post at Sheffield Wednesday, a job he would eventually quit to take over at Newcastle.

Given his record of resigning from seven of the 10 previous jobs he has held in a management career spanning more than 20 years, Newcastle fans could be forgiven for hoping he might throw them a bone by making it eight walkouts from 11. Having originally greeted his appointment with disdain on the grounds he was unlikely to deliver the kind of Total Football they marvelled in during the reign of his predecessor Rafa Benítez, they have now reached a point where they are collectively frothing at the mouth over his continued presence as their team shuffles Walking Dead-style towards the abyss.

It is probably important at this juncture to point out that, never having met Bruce, The Fiver is not one of his apparently countless “media mates” that Newcastle fans obsess over as they bristle in the face of suggestions from the punditocracy that by wanting to see their football team win matches every now and again they are in some way entitled and have preposterously unrealistic expectations.

Currently unable to barrack their manager from the seats of St James’ Park for obvious reasons and having long been insufficiently organised to mount a protest worthy of the name back in the days when public dissent on British streets was still allowed, Newcastle fans have had to rely on voicing their disquiet through the always effective medium of raging on social media disgraces and paint-daubed bedsheets. Their pleas for Bruce to go have fallen on deaf ears and it has now emerged that the manager celebrated his recent vote of confidence by giving his players most of the international break off. While critics have suggested Bruce knows the jig is up and is actually trying to get himself fired so he can trouser a multimillion-pound payoff, given how poorly his side has performed in the wake of regular training sessions, a holiday could be exactly what his players need.


“We stood there, looking at each other, eye to eye. He was talking to me and his eyes never left mine, but he must have flicked the ball up 47 times. He flicked it up and caught it behind him on his neck, down the back of his neck, hoofed it over his back and caught it on his foot, something I could never do if I played forever. I thought, ‘How do you give him a telling-off when he’s doing that?’” – the late Ian Greaves describing an attempt to give Frank Worthington a rollocking during their time at Huddersfield. Worthington, the maverick’s maverick, has died aged 72.

Frank Worthington at Leicester.
Frank Worthington at Leicester. Photograph: PA


“Ralph Hasenhüttl will have searched for the answer to many mysterious questions as Southampton manager this season, but Nathan Redmond’s undoubted ability, combined with his ability to nearly produce the goods when it matters, is something that has vexed us fans since Ralph took over too. Clearly a confidence player, perhaps Redmond would have his self-belief restored for the rest of the season if his manager were to show him certain football tea-time emails (yesterday’s Fiver) that compare him – almost unbelievably, certainly conveniently – to the greatest player of all time” – Tim Miller.

“If you’re going to allow anagrams (yesterday’s Fiver letters), I would just like to point out that an anagram of Weird Uncle Fiver is cruel viewfinder. It kind of sums up your whole raison d’etre” – Steve Burton.

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


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Mmm, Quavers.
Mmm, Quavers. Illustration: David Squires/The Guardian


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Glen Kamara and Slavia Prague’s Ondrej Kudela. Photograph: Andrew Milligan/PA

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

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