West Brom v Luton: Steve Bruce backs himself – but may be in minority of one

Steve Bruce admitted himself he can do little else but plough on.

Steve Bruce reacts during the Sky Bet Championship between Preston North End and West Bromwich Albion at Deepdale on October 5, 2022 in Preston, United Kingdom. (Photo by Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images).
Steve Bruce reacts during the Sky Bet Championship between Preston North End and West Bromwich Albion at Deepdale on October 5, 2022 in Preston, United Kingdom. (Photo by Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images).

He has argued that quitting and giving up is not in his nature. The 61-year-old has endured enough difficulty in recent jobs, to still have that desire is quite something.

The Albion boss today, at least, finds himself still that.

Bruce, still trying to sound upbeat given Albion’s plight, said at Deepdale following Wednesday night’s latest forgettable affair that he would understand if he was sacked from his role by either chief executive Ron Gourlay or owner Guochuan Lai, or both.

The manager has said time after time of late he appreciates the results and league standing are nowhere near good enough. That much is as clear and painstakingly obvious as it comes.

But it was the first time amid this sad plight Bruce admitted his fate may be sealed. It felt like, once a manager admits that, there is no going back.

It has to be said, though, Bruce remains adamant he can turn the sorry affair around. “I might be the only one,” he said, and “I’m not be everybody’s cup of tea, especially the supporters.” at Deepdale. Those kind of comments reveal he is very much aware of the clamour for change, but when he is swimming against that strong a tide, surely it is an impossible task?

While many may well have expected the axe to fall yesterday as Bruce met with club chiefs at the training ground, Bruce continues at the helm and looks set to take charge of tomorrow’s visit of Luton to The Hawthorns.

Albion start that game, the 13th of the league season, in the Championship relegation zone. That is almost unfathomable. It is the lowest ebb, and worst collective performance over a sustained period, in a generation.

A year ago yesterday Albion beat QPR to go fourth in the Championship.

Luton, who visit the Black Country sitting ninth and unbeaten in four games, will be licking their lips at the prospect of taking on this beleaguered, weary, confidence-shot Albion side. Manager Nathan Jones will believe all the Hatters have to do is stick it on their hosts in the first 15 minutes and they will inevitably work a lead.

That is all Preston – a goal-shy outfit who had scored just once at home this term – did on Wednesday. And that is all Swansea did last weekend, and many before that.

It looks as though Albion’s squad, the majority if not all players old and new, have a deeply-rooted and ingrained issue when it comes to starting matches.

A significant problem, of course, is confidence. That only comes with wins, or failing that very good performances. Those have been in short supply this season.

It has been up to Bruce to change that but he has failed so far. What felt like a final roll of the dice on Wednesday was to make six changes, including the goalkeeper, to try to address the issue. But they failed.

Luton will come full of confidence, safe in the knowledge this Albion team are there for the taking.

Fans will vote with their feet and The Hawthorns could well be toxic once more.

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