Steve Bruce, racism and journalism for the hard-of-thinking

Image: The View from the Press Box

There are times when I rise up and defend my confrères in the press, and times when they make me despair. Today’s headlines about Steve Bruce being caught “in another race storm” make it a day for despair.

Getting on for 12 years ago, I saw Sunderland beat Watford 3-2 away in the first of Peter Reid’s seventh top seasons. SuperKev grabbed two of the goals, one of them having taken a massive deflection, and Gavin McCann the other.

I remember the game for something else. Two young friends, sisters, were also there, though their seats were some way from mine. The story of their matchday experience was not a pleasant one.

Two of our own fans, who gave every impression of having been on the booze since daybreak and no impression of being able to handle it, kept up a moronic, truly racist mantra throughout the first half, jeering and abusing Watford’s black players and slurrily shouting their approval of what was then an all-white Sunderland team. Long may that remain the case, was the thrust of their philosophy, though they may not have put it quite like that.

When my friends complained to a steward, he took no action whatsoever. And the drunken, racist yobs simply changed their targets and began abusing the girls, until – in the absence of anyone moving the culprits out – the girls felt obliged to move away and finds seats somewhere else.

Where does that fit into today’s news?

It’s all over the papers, apparently, but this is obviously an agency version since I found in places from UK tabloids to an online publication I’d not previously heard of, the New Kerala (the geographical clue suggesting they ought to have known better what is, and is not, racism):

Argentina defender Marcos Angeleri has accused Sunderland boss Steve Bruce of not liking him because he is not English.

Bruce has been caught up in another race storm – involving one of his own players.

The revelation comes two months after Aston Villa manager Gerard Houllier had accused Bruce of racism over the Darren Bent transfer row.

“The boss doesn’t talk to me, he doesn’t even say hello to me when he sees me. I think he doesn’t like me because I’m not English,” The Sun quoted Angeleri, as saying.

He told ESPN Radio: “Steve Bruce is not a nice person at all. He is a little unpleasant. I have played just a few minutes in Sunderland since my arrival. I want to play, that’s my job. That’s why I’m not happy here in Sunderland. I don’t understand why I”m not playing. The boss is too defensive.”

He doesn’t like me because I’m not English! He doesn’t like Houllier because he’s French!

Look at each case, think for half a second and you instantly see there could be another explanation. Bruce was unhappy about the circumstances in which Darren Bent was bought by Aston Villa. He has come to the conclusion, or so it seems, that Mr Angeleri is frankly second rate.

They could be of the purest British stock, in so far as such a thing exists. That wouldn’t alter for a moment Bruce’s displeasure with them.

Bruce may be right or wrong in this: perhaps Mr Houllier and his club acted in accordance with the highest principles of fair play in their pursuit and acquisition of Bent, and maybe Marcos Angeleri is the world’s finest footballing talent whose apparent incompetence is a cunning disguise.

But in attempting to suggest the behaviour of a serial offender – “another race storm” – and, indeed, to say there is the least hint of racism in the first place, every media outlet that has reported the non-story in such terms has succeeded only in making itself look very foolish. And in causing M Salut to despair …

Monsieur Salut

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Salut! Sunderland is written, illustrated and edited by - and principally for - supporters of Sunderland AFC. The site aims to be sufficiently literate and entertaining to appeal to people who do not follow SAFC but enjoy good football writing.

6 Responses to “Steve Bruce, racism and journalism for the hard-of-thinking” Subscribe

  1. Pete Sixsmith March 25, 2011 at 10:06 am #

    Angeleri seems to have been subject to the same treatment as Matt Kilgallon, who has clearly been discriminated against because he is from Yorkshire. The manager seems to have similar views on their footballing attributes. Not every signing is a good signing.

  2. malcolm March 25, 2011 at 10:24 am #

    I presume he’s not too keen on Ulstermen either with Healey and McCartney both out on loan.

    Maybe he doesn’t like Angeleri because he has a crap hairstyle. Personally I wouldn’t pick players who wear gloves (sorry Asamoah) whatever the weather. I’ve only just got used to seeing Sunderland players in long sleeved shirts even when it’s snowing.

    Of course the most ludicrous aspect of this accusation is that Bruce would spend a few million in fees and wages on an Argentinian, just so he can show that he doesn’t like people of that nationality.

  3. Michael March 25, 2011 at 10:26 am #

    I think that Angeleri’s alleged claim that Bruce is racist just doesn’t hold water. We have three Ghanians, one Beninian, a Belgian, a Frenchman and a Dutchman who curently get a regular place in the first team squad. And why do they ? Because unlike Senor Angeleri they are good enough. So knuckle down and show Bruce you are good enough and strong enough to perform in the Premiership or take a cut in wages and sort out a move to a league more suited to your style.

  4. Keith Hutton africa March 25, 2011 at 10:29 am #

    Living in South Africa where racism is blamed for everythig I find Angeleri’s statement laughable. It is lacking realism, why did Bruce by him? In fact Bruce has a MO of finding South American and African players and making them successful and marketable. Does this sound like a racist or anti- South American bigot. No it does not I haven’t seen much of Angeleri but what I have seen of him would suggest he is unable to trap a bag of wet cement. He is clearly not of the quality required for the EPL and a mistake was made in his purchase, I would imagine he is available at a reduced price and no offers are incoming, which would suggest the above appraisal is held by others. Bruce should demand an apology then sack him for bringing the game and the club into disrepute.

  5. Sobs March 25, 2011 at 11:12 am #

    I’ve seen Angeleri play (and I use the word advisedly) for the reserves, and, frankly, he looked out of depth at Hetton. Maybe his style doesn’t suit the English game, or vice versa, but as that consists of ignoring shouts (in whatever language, Carlos sounds the same) or ducking out of tackles, I’m not surprised. Bruce never picks me for the team either – does he hate people from Bishop?

  6. Birflatt Boy March 25, 2011 at 2:11 pm #

    The few minutes that I have seen of him suggests that Bruce’s contempt for him is based on the fact that he thought he was signing a footballer and not someone who looks like he’d be better suited to a Motley Crue tribute band than a pair of boots.

    Accusing someone of racism simply because you are from another country is nothing short of a disgrace, when there seems to be nothing whatseover that Bruce has done which could possibly construed as racism. It’s puzzling that Angeleri should be so highly rated in his homeland when his appearances have done nothing other than stir memories of Mick Whitfield.

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