⚽ Steve Bruce Exclusive Interview

Updated: 78 Football

Steve Bruce shares insights on football management, potential managerial fits for Manchester United, and evaluates players' prospects in England, highlighting the sport's complexities and professional dynamics.

⚽ Steve Bruce Exclusive Interview
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Editor-In-Chief with 20 years experience covering the betting angles to breaking news stories. Daily slots player, Portsmouth fan and League Snooker Player

In this interview, former footballer and manager Steve Bruce discusses several topics including his views on managerial changes at Sunderland, potential managerial fits for Manchester United with a nod towards Thomas Tuchel, and Manchester United’s potential move for Dan Ashworth. Bruce also shares his thoughts on Dwight Yorke’s managerial aspirations, David Moyes’ future, his own desires to return to football, and assesses the prospects of players like Anthony Gordon and Jordan Henderson in the England squad. Bruce's insights touch on the complexities and challenges of football management and the dynamics within professional clubs.

Steve Bruce Profile

Stephen Roger Bruce, born on 31 December 1960 in Corbridge, Northumberland, England, began his playing career after overcoming early rejections from professional clubs. Making his mark at Gillingham, where he started as an apprentice, Bruce played over 200 games before moving to Norwich City in 1984. His successful tenure at Norwich, highlighted by winning the League Cup in 1985, catapulted him into the spotlight, leading to a transfer to Manchester United in 1987. At United, Bruce became a key figure, winning multiple honors including three Premier League titles, three FA Cups, one League Cup, and the European Cup Winners' Cup. Despite his club success, Bruce never represented England at the senior international level, a fact that remains a notable omission in an otherwise stellar career.

Managerial Career

Turning to management after his playing days, Bruce took the reins at several clubs beginning with Sheffield United. His managerial career is distinguished by his ability to guide teams through promotions, notably achieving this feat twice with Birmingham City. Bruce also managed Wigan Athletic, Crystal Palace, Sunderland, Hull City, Aston Villa, Sheffield Wednesday, and Newcastle United, before his latest stint at West Bromwich Albion. Renowned for his resilience and tactical nouse, his managerial journey has been marked by significant ups and downs, including leading Hull City to the 2014 FA Cup Final and handling Newcastle United during the challenging COVID-19 pandemic era. However, his tenure across these clubs has also been characterized by fluctuating fortunes and eventual departures, with his time at West Bromwich ending in October 2022 after a disappointing start to the season.


Legacy

Stephen Bruce's football journey spanning over four decades as both a player and a manager is a testament to his dedication to the game. Notably, his playing career is celebrated for the achievements with Manchester United and his significant impact on the field, despite the glaring absence of an international cap. As a manager, Bruce's legacy is enriched by his adaptability, leadership through promotions, and his milestone of 1,000 club matches managed. His contributions to English football, both on and off the pitch, underscore a career replete with determination, success, and an indelible mark on the clubs he served.

Interview February 2024

Michael Beale has been sacked by Sunderland. Would you be interested in the job?

SB: "That’s a very difficult question, I think the board needs to make up their minds on what they want. Sacking Tony Mowbray seemed a strange call as he was very popular and doing very well on the pitch. 

“Sunderland, in my opinion, have had far too much change. To sack a manager after 12 games is testament to that, the board must make up their minds on what they want and support the new manager and more importantly give him time."

What type of manager would suit Manchester United if they moved on from Erik ten Hag? 

SB: "Thomas Tuchel would be a good fit wherever he goes and I think it was a bit harsh that he ever lost his job with Chelsea in the first place. If you're the manager of Bayern Munich now, you cannot be losing three games in a row, that's the problem.

"It doesn't matter who the manager is, which underlines the problem that I've been talking about. Okay, they've had a bad two weeks in Europe and domestically, and the manager will come under pressure.

"He will be fine, that is for sure."

What do you make of Manchester United’s move for Dan Ashworth?

SB: "It would be a huge coup for Manchester United to get him away from Newcastle. There is no doubt this guy has probably invented the Director of Football role in this country.

"While it may be more common in Europe, Dan has certainly been one of the first in this country. When you look at his track record at every club he has been, I have the utmost respect for him and I wish him the best of luck.

"It seems as though he will be making the move over to United, purely just based on the speculation, and if so then you just hope for a speedy resolution to it all for every side.

 "He's a very talented man and I've said this many times since I left Newcastle, you have to say Amanda Staveley and the people running the club have made three very shrewd appointments. 

"Dan, Darren Eales and then of course Eddie, have all been three very good appointments and they've done fantastically well. That's been Newcastle's strength; where a lot of clubs get taken over and they haven't got the structure right, they spend colossal sums of money, Newcastle have bought very well and everybody who has walked through the door has seemed to be a success.

"That's not easy with the sums of money they are paying for people these days, so you have to say Dan is a real class act and highly thought of in the game." 

Dwight Yorke has said he’s itching to get back into management, and would consider Birmingham and Sunderland if the vacancies became available. As you’ve managed him, can you tell us if you think that would be a good move for both parties?

SB: "I wish Dwight all of the best, but you have got to be a good fit wherever you go. Birmingham have obviously just made a big change, Wayne didn't happen for them and they've made a change with Tony Mowbray, so he just needs an opportunity to see what he can do.

"I wish him all the best of luck and it is really difficult to get back in, so I wish Yorkie all the best. I hope he gets a chance to show what he can do. He needs a chance, but sadly chances don't come around very often. There aren't many jobs out there at the moment."

David Moyes’ future continues to come under question. Is that fair? 

SB: "Looking at where West Ham were two or three years ago, and the problem is that people just forget. Admittedly, he has had a little bit of a bad run, but all clubs have bad runs. You can lose four or five on the bounce sometimes, but it is how you react to that. 

"They've just won a European trophy which I think is the first one they have won since the 60's! I've got a huge respect for what he has achieved and what he has done in the game and I've seen it many times where supporters want a change and it doesn't work.

"Why would you get rid of someone with a wonderful CV like Moysey has? Be careful what you wish for West Ham fans, that would be my advice.

"This phrase 'under pressure' has come about seemingly from nowhere, but you're technically under pressure from the first day as a manager and you need to get results straight away. If you don't, the phrase 'under pressure' comes out and before you know it, the manager loses his job.

"That's what I've seen from afar during my time away from football over this past year where I've not been working. It is such a cutthroat industry and people don't seem to have very good memories. West Ham have just won a huge trophy.

"I hope he turns it around, it would not surprise me if he did because of his vast experience. He is a fighter who won't give up and he's got a little something bit about him, or else he wouldn't have managed as many games as he has done in the Premier League." 

What does the future hold for you, do you want to get back into management? 

SB: "In some capacity, I would like to think that I could offer someone a response if they asked me anything about football. Whether I go on the coal face and manage again or if I go in and help a younger manager, whatever I do I really want to try and get back into football.

"I want to try and get back in, I find Saturday afternoons very strange. But how lucky I have been. 

"I managed for 24 years and played for 20 years, this is the first time for 45 or 46 years that I have had a year out of football and I am itching to get back in some capacity."

Does Anthony Gordon deserve a place in England’s Euro 2024 squad?

SB: "We are so balanced and we have such a quality in wide areas for England it is scary and he has to be on the list, I would have thought. But England still have the likes of Foden, Grealish and Saka to consider - the list goes on and on.

"We have a wonderful array of talent in that area of attacking players, he must be on the agenda. He has been a real success and Newcastle have bought really well. Harvey Barnes will come into that category as well, even though he has suffered with injuries so far this season.

“At the minute, it has to be Foden and Saka in those wide positions for me.”

Does Jordan Henderson still deserve a place in Gareth Southgate’s England squad? Is the damage to his reputation, following his move to Saudi Arabia, fair in your eyes?

SB: "Yeah I do, and listen, it obviously didn't work out. He has gone now to play for a big club in Holland and I'm biased because I had Jordan as a kid when he was 18 at Sunderland.

"I know the leadership qualities he has and what kind of pro he is. He will be there or thereabouts for England at the Euros because of what he gives.

"It will be interesting to see how he settles in Amsterdam, and like I said, he is a great pro and a great lad as well as a great leader. These players don't come around too often, so when you have got that altogether - yes he is not as young as he once was - but I still think he has a part to play.

"I would not be surprised if he is on that plane. Listen, you don't play for Liverpool for a decade if you can't play.

"It's great that he can run and he is committed, but the fundamentals are that you have to be able to play. And he would not be playing in that great Liverpool team if he can't play.

"He's not a Phil Foden who is going to get you off your chair, but he is a very good footballer."

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