They say it’s the hope that kills you.  For me, it was the howp.

A string of mediocre managers that began with Fat Sham at the helm when Mike Ashley became the owner.  Utter despair for most of Ashley’s 14 years.  What began with Sam Allardice ends with Steve Bruce.  How’s the progression did you say?

Bruce was the final nail in the coffin for me.  Having sacked it off under ‘Pards’ as I couldn’t be arsed with it anymore, I was sucked back in due to my kids getting into football and ironically my first game back at St James’s Park (albeit half-heartedly) was McLaren’s last game.  And then came Rafa; that was it, I was ‘all in’ again.

Of course, I knew we would never win anything. I understood that we wouldn’t be returning to the San Siro anytime soon.  But that’s not what it’s about, it never has been.  Not for me anyway.

According to Google – Sport “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.”   The key word for me here is compete.  That’s all I have wanted, to be competitive.  Surely that’s all any fan would want is for their team to compete.  If you compete, there is hope.

Rafa took all hope with him.  We returned to just existing again.   I genuinely thought we wouldn’t go backwards so fast when Benitez left for China.  I thought, naively, we would get an ambitious young manager who could unite the fan base again and tempt back the flags and the hope along with them.

“Fucks’ sake man, Steve Bruce?”.  With ‘hope’ turning the lights out as it exited the building, in walked MrHowp.  Steve Bruce was peak Ashley.  Plucked out of literally nowhere (apologies to Owls fans), for a fee, and dropped into a Premier League club to replace Rafael Benitez, a winner.

Three years of talking up the opposition and “howping we can get something” or “We played well for 25 minutes so we howp we can take that into the next game”.  Three years of square pegs in round holes.  Three years of lying to the supporters.  Three years and a handful of wins.  Three years of 3 goal defeats.  Three years of “I think Steve is doing a great job, just what do the fans expect”.  As much as I despise Mike Ashley, I hold an equal amount of distain for Steve Bruce.

Bruce should be put in front of the Hague for his crimes against football.   For three long years we have had to endure football that has been devoid of any enjoyment whatsoever.  We haven’t competed.  don’t have to look far to understand how bad he was.  The defeats, the goals against, the press conferences.  I am struggling to think of anything positive that he has achieved during his time here.Nobody will ever understand his formations, Shelvey at centre half, Gayle on the bench, Joelinton on the pitch or the numerous days off – anyone else see the irony in the owners visiting the training facility only to find the staff had been given the day off.  Genuinely comedic.There will be no more eye rolling when asked questions by the local media, no more blaming players when HE fails to get a message on to the pitch. There will be no more Steve Bruce.  He’s gone and I’m absolutely delighted.

As we enter a new era for our football club, with renewed hope, it is important to remember that we have been here before, 14 years ago.  The owners have a responsibility to the fans not to make a complete clusterfuck of this new managerial appointment.  Expectations will be high, of course they will.  They have an incredible opportunity to wake up a fanbase that have been bored into submission in recent years.   The potential is enormous, and the next chapter of this great club could be absolutely magical.

As I type this I can already here the screws going back into the wall to secure the tactics board back where it belongs in the changing room.

Have a safe trip home to Manchester Steve.

TIM WOOD