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
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 However this story was superseded by Mike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
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
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
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.
He helped Villa reach the play-off final in May 2018 only to lose to Fulham. On 3rd October 2018, he was sacked after a poor run of form (one win in 10) and replaced by Brentford's Dean Smith with John Terry as assistant.