The day before a game sometimes you fool yourself into thinking that some things might get better, that Newcastle might show some signs of growth, or have a tactical plan, or well … anything to be positive about. The summer was spent chasing Joe Willock, we spent a lot of time badgering away, did absolutely nothing else about securing other players as the ownership and manager were apparently aware it was one and nothing. So now we find ourselves five games in and praying for a miracle, hoping that after ninety-four games we might improve. Often this positivity disappears on a Friday once the manager speaks, and sadly for me today was no different.

Firstly, the news that Martin Dubravka was seen in training earlier in the week and is working his way back to fitness is great – it appears he won’t be ready for action until after the October international break but still a positive step. To be honest, Darlow was a significant step up anyway last Friday night, so we can hope that he puts in another good performance.

The press conference brought an admission that Joe Willock has injured a toe (he looked injured when subbed at Old Trafford) and will likely miss the Wolves game as well. Presumably this means our great saviour Jeff Hendrick will be brought in. There was also news of yet another muscle injury, this time to Jamaal Lascelles, his thigh injury similarly to keep him out for two weeks, we hear. His drop in form might make this less of a concern (though he did look better in the four on Friday), but it is the fact that we don’t seem to be able to keep players fit.

When quizzed on chants about him leaving the club, clearly audible from all four sides of the ground at points on Friday, the manager responded with “I’ve had some flak since I walked through the door.” It is difficult to know who this is aimed at as supporters were not calling for his head as he arrived or during the Arsenal games, or really at all during 2019/20 pre-lockdown. He then admitted that “we haven’t got enough” results so far, we have Steve – two draws and three defeats, it is wins we are missing. Then a strange line about “boring Newcastle” which makes no sense as nobody has called us boring, rubbish maybe, but not boring. If he means the defending, I might be more tempted by comical, than boring.

Apparently, we have spent the last two and so seasons playing a back five half the time and a back four the other. Resident fact checkers were called and as True Faith’s own Alex Hurst mentioned on Twitter, backed up by The Slide Rule Pass blog, it is almost two-thirds with a back five (60/94). I know it probably shouldn’t irritate me, but his inability to remember the most basic facts about the teams he picks or if he just makes up these statistics, makes me think he is purposefully negligent about his job. He just doesn’t care about the details.

Then he said, “I know what the fans want but we’re working towards it.” What do we want Steve? If it is based on the past two seasons, I don’t think you’ve any clue where you are going with this, and I don’t think you do know what we want. A team where players play in their position? A team where the obvious weaknesses aren’t exploited to the extent that it takes a humiliation and then we change?

Then came the news that we have “five or six injured”. Now when the same number were on international duty, the manager took a holiday so who knows where he has been this week. Of the five or six injured (I think its six, but then I only watch the team I don’t manage it) two are goalkeepers and we have four in our squad so that should be fine. Wilson played on injured presumably with his managers blessing, Shelvey, Lascelles and Willock will be missed but can be replaced. We were missing four last Friday.

Then we got the part I was dreading. When TF’s Daniel Wales spoke to Bruce on BBC Newcastle, he accepted he had to stop talking us down and opponents up. But here it was again “they’re very, very good in the top area … dangerous in wide areas … we need to go there and try to come back with a positive result. I try to win every game.” Just a reminder this is newly promoted Watford, not Manchester City or Brighton. We are not talking about a team in Europe, this is a team that finished below Norwich last season in the league below.

Do I want him to say we will go there and stuff them? No. Do I want us to stop hearing about how bad we have it, how many players he is without and how good the opposition are? Yes.

Muscle injuries are unfortunately a part of football, though we do seem to be experiencing a large spate of them over the last eighteen months, far more than the previous three years. Is there any chance that the manager might get a jaw strain before the next press conference? If not can he stop insulting us with the ridiculous nonsense that he continues to talk, as if we aren’t supporters and don’t see right through it with our own eyes.

Stephen Ord  @smord84