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Steve Bruce

Steve Bruce
Norwich Career: 1984-1987 (180 appearances, 21 goals) 
Current Club: Aston Villa (Manager)
Date of Birth: 31/12/1960
Nationality: English

Biography

Steve Bruce was one of Norwich's most inspirational signings. Costing only a total of £135,000 from Gillingham, Steve was an excellent central defender and club captain. He won the supporter's Player of the Year in his first season despite an own goal on his debut at home to Liverpool. He became a household name following his move to Manchester United in 1987 for £900,000.

At Old Trafford, Steve gained numerous trophies including the League/FA Cup double twice - the second under his captaincy. The most surprisingly element of his career is not that he was rejected by Sheffield Wednesday, Derby, Sunderland, Newcastle Burnley, Bolton and even Southport whilst as a youngster but rather that he never received full international honours for England. The closest he came was an England B cap against Malta in October 1987. It is highly likely that Steve will make many people's all time Manchester United Greats side as he was an inspirational captain, a rocklike defender, a true professional and scorer of over 100 goals - a fantastic total for a Centre-Back.

After 309 league games for the Red Devils, Steve moved to Birmingham City in the summer of 1996. Back pages of the tabloids suggested that Steve might replace Trevor Francis as Birmingham manager. His name also cropped up in discussions over whom should replace Lou Macari as manager of Stoke City and Howard Kendall at Sheffield United. In December 1997, he was linked with the vacant manager's position at West Bromwich Albion following Ray Harford's defection to QPR. Steve had a one day spell as caretaker manager at Birmingham following Francis' resignation on 8th March 1998 over an incident in the player's wives lounge. Francis returned to the club on 10th March leaving Bruce's future still uncertain with speculation rife that Steve Bruce will return to Carrow Road in some capacity in the near future. Supposedly he has been looking at property in East Anglia. This rumour has been enhanced by his unwillingness to sign a new contract and his refusal to become Trevor Francis' number 2. Bruce said "When I do enter management it will be on my own terms. I will be my own man". (Daily Mirror 4th April 1998)

The Daily Mirror
later alleged that Bruce will be joining Wigan in a new look managerial team with John Deehan . However this story was superseded by Mike Walker's sacking at Norwich. Bruce was alleged to be Delia Smith's first choice as Walker's replacement. Tabloid speculation though suggests a fly in the ointment with Bruce being eyed up by managerless Sheffield United. Steve is believed to have rejected the Norwich offer forcing them to turn to Bruce Rioch and Brian Hamilton. Bruce was expected to be named the new United manager before the weekend of 27th June however Birmingham City's insistence on compensation for the loss of a player delayed proceedings. This was eventually resolved and Bruce became the Blades' new manager on July 1st. His assistant was Steve Thompson whilst John Deehan has quit his job at Wigan to team up with Bruce at Bramall Lane. Steve began his managerial career with a 2-1 victory over Swindon in which he played. However he then stated that he may be forced to retire as his 37 year old legs can no longer take the pace.

Following the departure of Manchester United's Assistant Manager Brian Kidd to take over at struggling Blackburn, Steve Bruce's name was touted as a possible replacment for Kidd at Old Trafford. Supposedly Bruce was unhappy about the lack of funding that he receives to strengthen Sheffield United's promotion challenge. This rumour has continued into the New Year with the Daily Mirror reporting such a move on Friday 22nd January. Although Sheffield United finished 8th in Division One and reached the last 16 of the FA Cup, Steve became increasingly disenchanted with baordroom squabble at Brammel Lane and the lack of financial support for team development. After a fortnight of speculation linking him with managerial vacancies at Barnsley, Huddersfield and Nottingham Forest, Steve quit on 17th May 1999 after less than a year in the position.

Steve confirmed his appointment as Huddersfield's new manager on 24th May 1999. His assistant at United, John Deehan followed suit and joined up with Steve at the McAlpine Stadium in June 1999. Huddersfield's impressive start to the 1999/2000 season had seen Steve's vision appreciated by the Board of Directors at Huddersfield with Steve invited to join them. Steve announced that his primary form of relaxation was to write and that he has plans to publish a series of football related thrillers and mysteries. He sees himself as football's answer to racing's Dick Francis. The main character in his three book series is Steve Barnes, the boss at Leddersford who's trying to beat the charge of murdering one of his players. The Huddersfield players were hoping that there would not be any mysterious disappearances. Steve was later named by Teamtalk as a potential successor to Bruce Rioch who quit as Norwich manager on 13th March 2000.

Following Huddersfield's failure to make the Division One play-offs, Steve was again linked with moving on in a quest for success. On 10th May 2000, he was linked with Birmingham City and managerless Sheffield Wednesday who had just been relegated to Division One. He remained the bookies' favourite for replacing Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United and in June 2000 was suggested by Teamtalk as a potential successor to Martin O'Neill at Leicester City following O'Neill's move to Celtic

Huddersfield's appalling start to the 2000/01 season saw Steve sacked on Monday 16th October 2000, with Lou Macari and John Deehan taking over as caretaker managers. Steve was quickly linked with a role at Derby County with Jim Smith moving upstairs as Director of Football. A similar role was suggested for Steve at Carrow Road with Bryan Hamilton moving upstairs to his old role as Director of Football. Towards the end of November 2000, Steve announced his interest at the vacancy at Scottish side Hearts as a result of the departure of Jim Jefferies. Bruce's link with a return to Norwich strengthened with the resignation of Bryan Hamilton in December 2000. Steve was also linked with the vacancy at Oakwell following the departure of Barnsley boss Dave Bassett. In February 2001, Steve had interviews with the QPR board about the vacancy at Loftus Road. However he became quickly disillusioned with the state of affairs at QPR that he withdrew his application.

At the beginning of April 2001, Steve was appointed manager of Wigan, until the end of the season, replacing the recently departed Bruce Rioch. Director of Football John Benson will take charrge of youth development. Steve took Wigan to the play-offs but they fell at the first stage losing 2-1 to Reading on 16th May. Although Wigan were keen to tie-up a longer deal for Bruce,. he quit Wigan on 29th May 2001 stating that he had received a good offer from a Division One club. That club was Crystal Palace and Steve signed on as the new manager on 1st June 2001. Palace's strong start to the 2001/02 season combined with Birmingham's poor form saw Bruce quickly linked with the vacancy at St Andrews following the departure of Trevor Francis on 15th October. (It had even been predicted by the Mirror on 12th October). Blues manager David Sullivan offered Bruce an improved deal, leading to Bruce's resignation on 2nd November 2001 from the Palace job. This provoked plenty of controversy about the nature of loyalty in the modern game. Palace owner Simon Jordan insisted he would hold Bruce to his contract unless he received adequate compensation (£500,000). Otherwise he would prevent Bruce from taking up his new position. Bruce finally took charge at St Andrews on 12th December 2001 (Ironically Trevor Francis became manager at Palace). Mark Bowen and John Benson were appointed as Assistant Managers at St Andrews. This obviously worked as they took Birmingham into the Premiership, beating Norwich in the Play-Off final in May 2002

Steve's success at Birmingham has continued and as such he has been linked with the vacancy at Tottenham following Hoddle's sacking. It was also alleged that Newcastle view him as their preferred option if Bobby Robson retires or resigns. When Robson was sacked in August 2004, Bruce was immediately linked with the Newcastle job much to the dismay of chairman David Gold who argued fervently that Bruce would not be leaving St Andrew's and quoted a release fee between £3m and £7m. In the end, Graeme Souness quit Blackburn to take the Newcastle role, to Gold's relief.

In October 2005, Birmingham's form saw them in the bottom three of the Premiership and rumours were rife that Bruce would be sacked, to be possibly replaced by George Burley who had departed from Hearts.

Following allegations in the News of the World on January 15th 2006 about Sven Goran Eriksson's loyalty to the Egland job, Steve was named as one of eight potential replacements if the FA and Sven parted company. However Steve's domestic concerns seemed to rule him out of the running as he gallantly struggled to keep Birmingham safe from relegation. Unfortunately the Geordie born Bruce was not successful, only managing a 0-0 draw with hometown side Newcastle on 29th April 2006 and with Portmsouth winning 2-1 at Wigan, City were relegated.

Bruce's job was reported to be on the line in mid-October 2006 when a 1-0 home defeat to Peter Grant's Norwich meant that the Blues had lost five games on the trot

The following year saw further speculation with rumours in October 2007 that Birmingham's proposed new owner Carson Yeung would replace Bruce - possibly with Steve McManaman who is a director in Carson's organisation. Bolton Wanderers approached Birmingham to ask for permission to speak to Bruce about the managerial vacancy at the Reebok following Sammy Lee's sacking but this was rejected. As required under the terms of his contract, Wigan agreed to pay Birmingham compensation for the loss of his services of around £3m, and they were then allowed to speak to him. On 19th November Wigan announced the signing of Bruce for a second time.On 21st November, however, during a press conference which was meant to be the presentation of Bruce at Wigan, the club's chief executive Brenda Spencer informed the media that the deal had been put on hold by "unknown issues" between Bruce and Birmingham City, reported to centre on the advance payment of the image rights element of Bruce's contract at St Andrew's. On 23rd November 2007 Wigan announced that Bruce had now signed his contract and would formally take charge on 26th November. His first game in charge was a 1-1 draw with Manchester City on 1st December 2007.

After leading Wigan to an 11th place in the Premier League in 2008/9, Bruce was believed to be disappointed with Wigan owner Dave Whelan's decision to cut the wages bill by £4m; and so was looking for a move. Following Ricky Sbragia's resignation at the end of the 2008/9 season and the takeover of Sunderland by US investo Ellis Short, Bruce was given permission to talk to Sunderland. Compensation was agreed betweeen the clubs and as of 1st June, Bruce's appointment was dependent solely on him agreeing personal terms with Sunderland. This move was completed on 3rd June 2009 with Bruce signing a 3 year deal. Wigan are set to receive £3m in compensation. Bruce added: "It didn't take much persuasion. This is the perfect step with the size of the football club and structure. I just want to continue the progression of the club over the last few years. An average of 42,500 shows what kind of support we have. The aim is to take the progression forward, we don't want to be flirting with relegation. To get up to 10th where Wigan were would be a huge improvement."

Bruce was sacked as Sunderland manager on 30th November 2011 following a torrid run of results which saw Sunderland win just twice in thirteen games. Bruce brought in a raft of new signings over the summer, but the Black Cats have slumped to within two points of the relegation zone this season, and chairman Ellis Short acted quickly to stop the rot. "It is my job to act in the best interests of our football club and I can assure everyone that this is not a decision that I have taken lightly," said Short. "Sadly results this season have simply not been good enough and I feel the time is right to make a change." In 98 games in charge of Sunderland, Bruce won 29 matches, drew 28 and lost 41

Bookmakers installed former Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill as the early favourite to replace the ex-Manchester United defender, with Mark Hughes, Rafa Benitez and Guus Hiddink also figuring prominently in the betting. O'Neill was indeed Bruce's replacement

Bruce was quickly linked to the vacant Norwich position following Paul Lambert's departure to join Aston Villa at the beginning of June 2012. Instead this position went to Chris Hughton but Bruce was appointed manager of Hull City, on a three year deal, on 8th June 2012. The Tigers had been managerless since sacking Nick Barmby in May. Bruce said: "I'm looking to bring back the Premier League days if we possibly can, that's the reason I'm sitting here, for the challenge of it. There were a few weeks of talks and negotiations and I'm now relishing the challenge of getting the club back to where it wants to be."

Bruce and Hull secured promotion to the Premiership on 4th May 2013 finishing second in the Championship. The following season they secured Premiership survival and reached the FA Cup final losing 3-2 to Arsenal in extra time.

Bruce and Hull were relegated from the Premiership on 23rd May 2015 when they could only draw with Manchester United whilst rivals Newcastle secured safety with a win over West Ham.

Bruce led Hull to promotion via the play-offs to the Premier League on 28th May 2016 with a 1-0 win over Hull City.

On 19th July 2016, Bruce held talks with the Football Association about the England manager's position currently vacant following Roy Hodsgon's resignation after the Euro2016 defeat to Iceland. Hull City said Bruce, 55, has "held informal discussions" but "no official approach has been received from the FA". Bruce commented that "It's got to be the prime job that any Englishman could ever want to have. I'm highly flattered to be even considered. I put my case across and let's hope it was successful." The FA had already interviewed Sam Allardyce about this position and it was Allardyce who got the job.

On 22nd July 2016, Bruce quit as Hull manager over the club's lack of transfers. Bruce has had an increasingly difficult relationship with vice-chairman Ehab Allam, the son of owner Assem. Sources close to the former Manchester United captain have told The Telegraph that things deteriorated so much that Bruce believed he was being prevented from doing his job properly and suspected they were trying to provoke him into quitting.

On 12th October 2016, Bruce was appointed manager of struggling Championship side Aston Villa, replacing Roberto Di Matteo who was sacked on 3rd October. He becomes the third former Canary to manage the club in the eighteen months, following Paul Lambert and Tim Sherwood. Bruce's first game in charge saw them draw 1-1 in a televised match with local rivals Wolves that left Villa in 22nd place in the table.


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