Comment: Dignified Sheffield Wednesday stand firm after Steve Bruce's Newcastle United departure
The boardroom arm-wrestle that delayed the unveiling of Steve Bruce as Newcastle United manager looks set to continue, as does the way in which Sheffield Wednesday have carried themselves throughout the saga.
So often in football, regardless of the acrimony marinading a manager’s departure, the same old lines are trotted out in a hastily-penned statement; “The club have announced the departure of Joe Bloggs and his coaching staff,” they say, “we thank them for their service to the club.”
But not this time. For two hours after Newcastle’s flurried social media bombshell, Wednesday offered no acknowledgement of the news whatsoever, their silence only broken to announce that they are taking legal advice as to their next steps. Firm and to the point, it was in-keeping with their method throughout the saga – cool to the point of ice age.
Cards will remain pressed firmly against chests as the lawyers take over, but in admitting their considerations, Wednesday have staggered up from the canvas where Newcastle may have thought they had won. This, you suspect, will run and run.
The second thing to consider is that in pressing the mute button since Newcastle’s interest was made plain last week, they have made it absolutely clear what they think of Bruce’s role in the way this episode has played out. Sometimes, silence says so much.
Much has been discussed about who courted who in this sensational extra-marital ship-jump, but after Bruce’s claim post-Lincoln on Saturday that “it was one for the two clubs to sort out”, for him to reportedly slap three resignation letters on the table less than two days later showed a distinct lack of respect to Wednesday.
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And in saying he had persuaded Mr Chansiri to allow him to speak to the Toon hierarchy “out of respect to Newcastle”, he presented two fingers to the fans that rose above the sordid rumours to sing his name at Sincil Bank.
It was in those quotes – ill-judged at best, deliberately disruptive at worst – that the balloon burst on the incredible good feeling gathered in Bruce’s short reign in the Hillsborough hotseat. As fanbases burnt by Bruce in days gone by queued up to say “I told you so”, Wednesday kept their counsel, refusing to budge on a wall of silence they surely knew would come in handy if and when the lawyers were called in.
And so he goes, leaving a manager-shaped hole at a club who’s fanbase is galvanised behind its owner and who’s impressive string of pre-season performances suggest there are few causes for concern on the field.
He trades that swell of goodwill and optimism for Mike Ashley, fan protests and a side bereft of its two top goalscorers from last season. Today the Magpies limped tamely to a forlorn 4-0 defeat against Wolves.
The powers that be at Sheffield Wednesday may not wish Steve Bruce luck in his next challenge. The feeling is that he’s going to need some.