Firstly, thank you to Tom for passing the baton. He created the ‘let’s be honest’ series, but is currently locked in to bringing you NFL Draft content over the next few months.
So here I am. And I won’t be holding back.
Steve Bruce is the first victim. Currently managing Newcastle United, a team riddled with history. I can’t give Bruce all the flak however. Mike Ashley treats the club like a trust fund. Leeches the money out, and rarely puts anything back in.
The fans rightly want Mike Ashley gone ASAP, and how can you blame them? A giant club, who were in the Champions League in both 2002/3 and 2003/4. Ashley came along in 2007, and many people thought this would catapult Newcastle back to the big time. How wrong they were.
The Geordies were relegated in both 2009, and 2016. They are still struggling to remain in the Premier League season after season. I can’t see a way of Newcastle ever improving with Ashley sniffing around.
Now, back to the main culprit. Steve Bruce. My friend asked me a question today… what club has Steve Bruce ever done well at?
I can’t remember one. And the Bruce disasterclass rolls on to the North East. His tactics are dreadful, his team selection is woeful, and the morale around the club is abysmal. Yet still Bruce has a job? I believe the payoff he’d have to get from the shrewd Mike Ashley is the reason he’s not been given the boot.
As I write this, Newcastle concede another goal to Leeds. A side who can’t defend either. Another relegation battle looms at St James’ Park, and I can’t see them surviving this one without drastic changes.
How did Bruce get here? Let’s take a look at his 23 year managerial career…
Bruce started his managerial career at Sheffield United, a team stuck in the First Division, but were favourites to challenge for promotion. Bruce started how he meant to go on, missing out on the playoffs completely, coming 8th after an up and down season. Disappointment number 1.
After just a year at Bramall Lane, Huddersfield owner Barry Rubery came knocking, and after hours of persuasion, Bruce signed on the dotted line and made the switch across Yorkshire. Like Sheffield United, The Terriers were favourites to win the First Division. They started with a bang and were well and truly on track to reach the Premier League, however their form dipped drastically and, you guessed it, Bruce missed out on the playoffs again.
The next season, 2000/01, Bruce revamped the Huddersfield team, and again they were expected to be one of the teams battling it out at the top. However in the first 11 matches of the season, they could only amass 6 points, leaving them nearer the bottom than the top.
After the nightmare start, owner Rubery had enough. In fact, after sacking the useless Bruce, he came out and made a bold statement in the Terriers match day programme.
“The biggest mistake I made was believing that a great footballer would make a great manager. I was wrong. Some £3 million was wasted on players brought in by Steve Bruce, who we have thankfully parted company with, and that’s money that could and would have been spent more wisely by a more experienced manager.”
Brutal. Absolutely brutal. Disappointment number 2.
After Bruce’s contract was ripped up at Huddersfield, he had 14 months away from football. He should’ve given up there and then. However Wigan Athletic had a vacancy for a manager and Bruce applied, and got the job. Wigan were pretty much guaranteed playoffs when Bruce took over. He won just 3 of 8 games with the Latics, losing in the semi final of the playoffs. Another horrendous managerial spell for Bruce. But amazingly another club wanted to employ him…
A hat-trick for Bruce! 3 disappointments in a row!
Steve Bruce was unveiled as the new Birmingham City manager at the start of the 2001/2 season, a side he spent time with during his successful playing career.
Bruce did in fact do a decent job at Birmingham, earning them promotion back to the Premier League in his first season, via the dreaded playoffs.
After finishing mid table for 3 years in the Prem, Birmingham were ultimately relegated back to the Chanpionship in 2006. Many fans did call for the again underperforming Bruce to be sacked, however Birmingham stuck with their man, and their loyalty paid off.
Birmingham were promoted back to the Premier League just 12 months after being relegated. Carson Yeung took over Birmingham soon after the clubs promotion to the top tier, and decided he didn’t want Bruce to be his manager. He stuck with Bruce for a few months, but tried pushing him out the door with an awful contract offer.
Wigan Athletic (Again)
With Birmingham seemingly wanting rid of Steve Bruce, his old club Wigan again offered him the job at the DW Stadium. His poor form in his first spell for the Latics continued when he rejoined. Wigan struggled throughout the 2007/8 season, and were just about saved from relegation on the last day of the season. Bruce got lucky.
The next season Wigan survived again, and quite easily too. They ended up 11th in 2008/9, and were building a decent team too.
After having an excellent season with Wigan, Bruce was building a legacy at the club. So what did he do? He left.
Growing up a boyhood Newcastle fan, Bruce joining Sunderland didn’t go down well with the Mackems. The fans didn’t warm to him from day 1.
During his time at Sunderland he changed many of the playing staff, bringing in numerous big signings. This had no effect whatsoever, and Bruce was sacked with Sunderland struggling in 16th place midway through the 2011/12 season. No improvement at all from when he took over to when he left.
Like his spell at St Andrews, Bruce done a fairly decent job at Hull.
During his first season he managed to get the club promoted to the Premier League, finishing 2nd and therefore securing automatic promotion.
However Bruce found himself in another relegation battle just a season later, finishing 16th and ultimately surviving the drop. His best achievement in his managerial career came the same season. Hull managed to reach the final of the FA Cup, losing to Arsenal 3-2 after extra time. The closest Bruce has ever come to a trophy as a manager.
Just a year later, Hull were relegated on the final day of the Premier League season. Another relegation for the CV. The club did however stick with their man, and Bruce won promotion just a season later via the playoffs. After doing so, you’d think Bruce would be preparing for another season in the top flight. Wrong. Bruce resigned from Hull due to disagreements with the board. Once again, he was unemployed.
With his time at Hull City being somewhat of a success, was Bruce turning the tide in his woeful managerial career?
Aston Villa came calling and in October 2016, offered Steve Bruce the job. An average 2016/7 season loomed, and fans were getting frustrated. The club allowed Bruce another season and they thought it had paid off, reaching the final of the playoffs. The fans could taste the Premier League. Was Steve Bruce going to head back to the sacred land? No he wasn’t. This is Steve Bruce. He lost the final, annoyed the fans a few months later, and numerous banners were displayed in Villa Park asking for his head.
In fact, the Villa fans hated Bruce so much, one even chucked a cabbage at him in October 2018. This was the final straw. Bruce was booted out the door of another club.
Another club, another mediocre season. Not much to write about here. Average, no promotion, just meh. Bruce may have finally found his level, at a mid table championship side.
Oh no! Of course Bruce wasn’t done! The shambolic board at Newcastle decided he was the man to lead them forward! An excellent decision? Of course not. The team is sat 16th, a sitting duck for relegation. The fans are currently furious. Bruce is going to be sacked. It’s inevitable. Another failure from a manager who does not know what he’s doing, and hasn’t done since he started management.
Has Bruce ever done a standout job? No.
Has Bruce ever won a trophy? No.
Will he ever be a top manager? NO.
Let’s be honest… Steve Bruce is a shocking manager.