We’ve not had the best of times of late at Sheffield Wednesday, with things turning extremely sour under Jos Luhukay at the back end of 2018. Unbeknown to most, the chairman had a new man waiting in the wings, and that man was, of course, Steve Bruce.
Bruce, 58, had been axed by our Championship rivals Villa in October, and while things ended severely for Bruce at Villa Park, our chairman recognised what Bruce had achieved at Championship level, what he could bring to the club, and was willing to pay big to bring him in.
Bruce had, without question, undergone a torrid time in his personal life in the run-up to his Villa exit. And, while the chairman hoped to replace Jos Luhukay with Steve Bruce and his staff as quickly as possible, Bruce expressed a desire to take some time out. Do I think the chairman would have been keen on this? No. However, he was understanding of Bruce’s position.
It turned out Bruce wanted some time with his family, there was a knee operation which needed to take place, and Bruce also wanted to watch some cricket. Steve Agnew and Stephen Clemence joined in the interim, and the chairman and Sheffield Wednesday continued to do their utmost to respect Bruce’s wishes.
Wednesday did undoubtedly improve on the pitch following Luhukay’s departure, Lee Bullen’s stint in charge, the arrival of Agnew and Clemence, and then Bruce, however, after making a late push for the playoffs, we just fell short. There were reasons to be optimistic at this stage, however, and this, in my opinion, was all down to Steve Bruce.
Bruce was allowed to bring staff. Not only did Steve Agnew and Stephen Clemence arrive, but there were additions on the recruitment side in David Downes and Dean Hughes. Bruce has also hired Tony Strudwick too. A man tasked with solving the fitness and injury concerns which have plagued the club for many years.
Everything seemed to be on the up. The club looked to be moving forward, and I started to get the same optimistic feelings I had experienced ahead of the 15/16 campaign, and then, the hero in this situation rapidly went down in my estimations.
Newcastle United announced on the 24th of June that Rafa Benitez would be leaving the club at the end of his contract. Bruce, linked with the job immediately after Benitez’s exit, laughed off the rumours at Owls In The Park.
However, if reliable sources such as Vernon (@VGTIPS1) and others are credible, and I have no reason to doubt them as it seems they have the inside from Bruce’s camp, our manager had instructed his agent to reach out to Newcastle United in the hope of landing the job on Tyneside.
Now, I recognise that Bruce is a lifelong Newcastle fan. However, this didn’t stop him managing bitter rivals Sunderland, while also taking time to criticise the fan base he is now looking to get on side. Bruce seemingly has a habit of crossing divides too. He’s managed both Wednesday and United, Birmingham and Villa, and has now made it Sunderland and Newcastle.
Bruce also has another habit, one which has barely had a mention in media circles. He has form for engineering his exit from football clubs to move to another. Now, this isn’t possible without being deceitful, something which us Wednesday fans have quickly realised.
Steve Bruce is a media darling. He’s a man with a gentle approach, one who speaks to others and about others with respect. However, I’m now questioning whether this is all an act because it certainly feels like it. Does Steve Bruce get everyone dancing to his tune, so in the event of a situation occurring which could potentially make him look bad, everyone will side with him and not believe he’s capable of such a thing?
Throughout this sorry episode, one where Sheffield Wednesday are the victims, the media have not once questioned Steve Bruce or his behaviour. I saw Darren Huckerby’s tweet and the snippet of Micky Gray speaking on the subject, but we’re now seeing the media darling receiving backing from former collegues and other footballing people. Are you ignoring what has happened here?
The media are quick to criticise Raheem Sterling for taking an economy flight abroad or Paul Pogba for his latest haircut, but what about a bloke who, while held in high regard, has shit on one of England’s traditional football clubs?
Steve Bruce courted the Newcastle United job, behind the back of a chairman who bent over backwards to support him before and during his employment. Yes, there probably were disagreements along the way, an excuse Bruce is likely to use, but could these not have been resolved?
Prior to us heading to Portugal for our training camp, and during the time there, Steve Bruce and his assistants knew full well that they would potentially be exiting the club to join Newcastle. Bruce had brought in three new players in Moses Odubajo, Kadeem Harris and Julian Borner, Josh McEachran arrived on trial, and contract renewals were signed. So, was Bruce just spinning the Wednesday plate to hedge his bets?
In my opinion, it makes the whole situation worse. I know the lads at we have at the club are professional, and the new additions will get their heads down and get on with it, but what if some only joined the club because of Steve Bruce being the gaffer? What about employing Tony Strudwick who only joined last month?
The lack of respect Steve Bruce had shown at this point for Sheffield Wednesday as a whole – chairman, staff, players and fans – at this point was bordering on unbelievable. That was until he took charge of the side at Lincoln City, where he practically used his time with the media to make it clear in no uncertain terms that he wanted out, and was waiting for it to happen.
With the clubs locked in talks over a compensation package to release Bruce, Agnew and Clemence from their contracts, Bruce then took things to a whole new level disrespect when he resigned as Sheffield Wednesday manager, alongside Agnew and Clemence on Monday of this week. A move, which in my opinion, tells you everything you need to know about the man.
Now, his media friends may be prepared to back Bruce in the face of adversity, but I don’t see how they possibly can, but let’s face it, they’ve been doing so for years. He’s once again shown the other side to his character, his true colours, his deceitful underbelly, and it’s a shame that nobody is willing to call him out on this.
Bruce, already loved at Sheffield Wednesday, had breathed an air of optimism into the club. The project was one where there was potential for Bruce and co to take this club back to the top flight, writing their name’s in the history books and becoming heroes. However, Steve leaves as a zero, and he’s undoubtedly a zero on Tyneside too.