Dom Howson's Sheffield Wednesday column: How Steve Bruce has won the hearts and minds of Owls fans

It is easy to understand why the Owls faithful have really taken manager Steve Bruce to their hearts.

By The Star Newsroom
Wednesday, 15 May, 2019, 14:18

Bruce gets Wednesday. He understands the core values of the club and recognises its importance to the community. He knows all about the size and tradition of the Owls.

The bond Bruce has built with Wednesdayites is strong. The supporters new favourite terrace chant is 'Steve Bruce's barmy army' and it was belted out with real gusto in the closing weeks of the 2018/19 season.

Owls boss Steve Bruce

It is all a far cry from five months ago when some fans questioned Bruce's appointment.

But the genial Geordie, a promotion specialist who took both Birmingham City and Hull City to the top flight on two occasions, has silenced his detractors.

There was this perception in some quarters that Bruce produces teams that are hard to beat but are perhaps not the most pleasing on the eye. His Aston Villa critics claimed he was too cautious and stuck in his ways.

Well, Bruce certainly can't be accused of adopting conservative tactics as Wednesday boss. If anything, there has been a shift to a more attacking style.

The Owls have scored 27 and conceded 17 in Bruce's 18 matches at the helm. No-one can say they are a boring team to watch.

I remember asking assistant manager Steve Agnew to describe Bruce’s footballing philosophy when he was interim boss. His response was very revealing.

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“Steve was a top-class central defender so understands how to defend and organise a team,” he said.

"But equally, he played at Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson.

"Any player that has played under what I consider the best attacking coaches in recent years, then that says everything about Steve.

"He would love our team to play in a way that you can identify as being organised and solid but also rotate, cross balls and score goals."

Winning, entertaining football. It is what all fans love to see but it is easier said than done making that happen. It takes time and patience to deliver a stylish, successful playing style.

But what Bruce has managed to do in four months is bring a feelgood factor back to the club. He has done it partly by taking the shackles off the players.

"We are playing with a little more energy and at a faster tempo," said midfielder Adam Reach. "We are allowed to express ourselves in the final third, which is always good."

Becoming more proactive and a little less reactive is what Bruce wants. It is this change in approach, above everything else, that has helped him get the fans on side.