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Is it Time for Albion's Bruce to face the Sack?
After yet another poor result Steve Bruce moves closer to getting the sack. But how does he still keep getting a job?
In the summer of ‘98, as the nation's hopes of football finally coming home rested on the shoulders of an 18 year old Michael Owen in France, Steve Bruce was bringing his illustrious playing career to a close.
After three Premier league titles, 3 FA Cups, 2 League Cups and a European Super Cup and Cup Winners Cup to his name, Bruce was in the twilight of his playing career. He was about to embark on his first foray into management after accepting the player/manager role at Sheffield United after falling out of favour as a player at Birmingham City.
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It was the start of a managerial career that has spanned 4 decades, 24 years and 1031 and counting.
Unfortunately longevity doesn't always equate to quality. Or even ability.
Steve Bruce has led a charmed life as a manager. He has managed to jump from one job to the other with relative ease, never really achieving anything you could really call success, all while blaming everyone but himself when the proverbial inevitably hits the fan.
Dining out on his glory days as a player perhaps? Or maybe just making friends with the right journalists who would never dare question his ability or write anything scathing about him. The ‘He’s a really good bloke and the fans need to be realistic about what this team can achieve’ excuse will be one familiar to any fan of a club Bruce has managed.
The Midlands seems to be his favoured stomping ground having managed 50% of the County’s Football League sides, most currently frustrating the fans of West Brom.
After taking over the club when they were 5th and in the playoff spots last season, Bruce managed to guide them to a solid 10th place finish after dropping as low as 14th.
This season, they sit 22nd in the Championship, the relegation zone, with one win in 13 games. They have really gone from strength to strength and bought into ‘Bruce Ball’ 100%.
In recent years Bruce has managed Aston Villa and Newcastle United, both massive clubs with passionate fan bases. Both sets of fans were hammered by the media for being unrealistic after showing their displeasure with Bruce at the helm.
The reality was, the football was boring and ineffective. The ‘roll our sleeves up and go again’ lost all meaning at post match interviews and Bruce eventually started alienating the fans. Still his friends in the media backed him, doubling down on the view the fans had no better option. Proper gaslighting.
In truth, Steve Bruce replaced Rafa Benitez at Newcastle. A universally loved figure on Tyneside, who stayed with the club after relegation from the Premier League and took them back. He had brought a passion back to the stands at St James’ Park that had long been missing. They were a long way off winning a trophy, but they could see an idea and were excited to see where it was going. Rafa played exciting football, it didn’t always work but when it did, it was magical.
Rafa fell out with the owners at St James’ Park and lost his job, much to the annoyance of the Magpies. Steve Bruce took over and the club went backwards, the football was predictable and results were hard to come by. It was the same team as Benitez had, only one thing had changed: Bruce.
Since Bruce has left Newcastle there has been an upturn in results. Bizarre.
At Aston Villa the fans were constantly told that they ‘aren’t as big of a club as they think they are and need to accept where they are now’ when they questioned Bruce and his awful football. They were constantly shut down by ex-players and journalists who would plead ‘he’s a nice guy’. He may well be, but he’s a dreadful manager.
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Steve Bruce got sacked the day after a fan threw a cabbage at him. The media told of how Bruce was bullied out of Aston Villa by the fans and that Villa will never get promoted without Steve Bruce in charge.
Dean Smith came in in October and Aston Villa had confirmed promotion back to the Premier League by May via the playoffs.
The Villa team Bruce couldn’t get a tune out of had John McGinn, Tammy Abraham and Jack Grealish on the pitch. In the Championship.
It’s hard to understand why Bruce still keeps being given opportunities at top clubs. He achieves nothing and often leaves the club in a worse position than when he arrived. The last club he left in a better position was Birmingham City and he ruined his legacy there by moving to the Villa!
He is an analogue manager in a digital world. Unwilling to change to the demands of the modern game. Relying on guile, determination and character over any form of cohesive game plan. Add to that the complete lack of Plan B, it should make Bruce unemployable, yet he still gets a job.
For the sake of every football fan across the land, I hope this is his last.
Written by Tomas Browne, Sports Editor
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