Two games and two defeats. We don’t tend to start seasons well but we needed to after another summer of limited investment and a pre-season devoid of hope for the campaign ahead. We needed to start well to reignite the passion and belief among supporters, particularly after a year of watching pandemic football from our living rooms. Alan Pardew managed it in 2011 after a disappointing summer in which it appeared that the money from the sale of Andy Carroll in January was not going to be re-invested. However, Pardew took us on an amazing run, suffering our first defeat of the season on December 3rd, relieving any pressure from the manager and ownership. I can’t see the same happening under Bruce, particularly looking at the games coming up.

There is something in the air that reminds of the events of early season in the 1999/2000 campaign. Newcastle United were managed by charismatic Dutchman Ruud Guilt, approaching a year since his appointment, following the dismal period under Kenny Dalgleish. Guilt’s first season had ended in a 13th place finish and an FA Cup final defeat to Manchester United. The cup run had papered over the cracks somewhat as a cloud hung over the club. It was clear that Guilt had clashed with a number of senior players including Alan Shearer and Rob Lee.

The manager had humiliated Lee, having banished him to train with the reserves and the midfielder begun the new Premiership campaign without a squad number. As the ownership tended to do at the time, they backed the manager handsomely in the transfer market and Guilt brought in 8 new players in pre-season. The slight problem being that only one of them turned out to be any good- young Englishman Kieron Dyer signed from Ipswich Town for £6million. The others never made it at St James Park and had barely been heard of before they arrived on Barrack Road. Spanish import Marcelino was regularly injured, a broken finger delaying his start to the season. French defender Frank Dumas made only 6 appearances before returning home to Marseilles mid-season.

Whilst the comparisons to the present day cannot be drawn with our dealings in the transfer market that summer, they can when we begin to look at our start to the season. Like in the present, we had a fairly tame set of fixtures before the first international break, kicking off with Villa at home, before heading to Spurs and Southampton, then facing Wimbledon and Sunderland in back-to-back home games.

The Villa game ended in disaster as Alan Shearer was sent off following 2 very innocuous challenges. When referee Uriah Rennie showed our number 9 his second yellow card for backing into Villa midfielder Ian Taylor, Taylor was seen sniggering in disbelief. We slumped to a 1-0 home defeat. In the next fixture away at White Hart Lane, a Spurs side containing greats Chris Perry and John Scales, brushed us aside 3-1. We led 1-0 thanks to a Nobby Solano goal, but soon capitulated with former Mag Les Ferdinand scoring Spurs’ second goal. Guilt hit out at his players in the post-match press conference, blaming them for a lack of commitment on the pitch.

Next our trip to the Dell ended in the usual defeat, but this time a rather humiliating 4-2 reverse, conceding 3 goals in 10 second half minutes. Guilt famously dropped another long serving senior player in keeper’ Steve Harper and replaced him with John Karelse, signed 2 days before the game from Dutch side NEC Breda.

Pressure was mounting on Guilt as we headed into the Wimbledon game. Newcastle made an electric start, leading 3-1 just after half-time with goals from Gary Speed, Didier Domi and a Solano penalty. However, the Dons hit back to draw level with the equaliser coming in injury time.

The Dutchman had a chance to redeem the disastrous start to the season with a victory in the home derby. Speaking before the game, Guilt did little to improve his reputation with the supporters, belittling the importance of the Tyne-Wear derby, comparing it to other derby games he’d been involved in around the world. Guilt also decided to leave Shearer and Ferguson on the bench and we lost the game 2-1.

We all know how it ended between Ruud Guilt and Newcastle United- the Dutchman resigned 3 daysafter the derby defeat with us sitting in 19th place in the league and perhaps that is why I have written this comparison piece as my wishful thinking wants to see a repeat- Bruce resigning after 5 games and being replaced by a manager of the calibre of Sir Bobby Robson, a manager who can re-build the team, speak positively of the potential of the club and take us on a march up the league and champions league nights against Barcelona and Juventus.

If Bruce continues to squander the opportunity provided by a relatively easy start, as Guilt did in 1999, I can only see the season going one way and we will soon start hearing the manager play down our expectations and remind us about how difficult it is in the Premier League.

Adam Morrison @AdamMor41788032