Sheffield Wednesday: Steve Bruce’s shameless courting of Newcastle United has broken Dejphon Chansiri's trust - now he's got a big call to make

It looked like he was in it for the long haul.

Monday, 15th July 2019, 8:20 pm
Steve Bruce has left Sheffield Wednesday to join Newcastle United........Pic Steve Ellis

He arrived a little bit later than hoped but with good reason and Sheffield Wednesday’s best wishes. It looked like there was a plan in place; a project, to use modern managerial parlance. He had asked for a change in recruitment. He had asked for a change in the fitness department. He brought in a few more players, let some go and gave contracts to others who had earlier impressed.

He probably wanted more from the chairman – who doesn’t? – but he appeared to be given a lot more slack than previous incumbents.

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Sheffield Wednesday chairman Dejphon Chansiri on Steve Bruce's unveiling as Owls manager. Picture: Chris Etchells

To offer him some degree of fairness it’s his boyhood club and ask any Geordie and they'll tell you that love for the Toon never, ever leaves you. Even if he left the North East as a teenager and never went back permanently until becoming rivals Sunderland’s manager 30 years later.

If weekend reports are correct, his basic salary will make him the lowest paid manager in the English top flight, though there are incentives for staying up – offering a glimpse into the Magpies’ ambitions under Mike Ashley.

Whether the potential cash or the Premier League profile compensates for the tsunami of negativity Bruce is about to walk into in replacing a manager of Rafa Benitez’s credentials, only he knows.

On the face of it, the decision appears bizarre. If social media is a gauge – and it’s very often not – then the only person who actually wants Bruce there is a man, in Ashley, who no one likes.

Contrast that depth of feeling to these parts, where the blue and white half of Sheffield were thrilled, indeed proud, to have him as their manager and looking forward to seeing what he could achieve with Wednesday.

The fans will feel aggrieved and rightly so. They won’t, however, be anywhere near as annoyed by this turn of events as owner Dejphon Chansiri.

Since arriving in South Yorkshire, the Thai businessman has done things his own way and it was clear that was very much the only way, too.

Many have been critical of that stance; about the fact he was perhaps not listening to people’s advice or to the right people at the very least. About how football clubs are not run in the same way as any other business.

It’s his club, he can do whatever he likes and there’s never been any sense that every decision taken has not been for, what he feels, the betterment of the club.

When Bruce came in, however, there was something of a albeit subtle softening of this stance.

Bringing in an English manager for a start was a different approach, having had unknown Portuguese and an equally unheralded Dutchman in charge previously. And very quickly it seemed as though Bruce had Chansiri’s ear, like he was actually taking things on board this time.

Chansiri clearly respected the fact that Bruce knew his way around the rocky roads of the Championship and English football generally and bowed to that knowledge garnered from his time as a player in a trophy-laden career and as a multi-promotion-winning manager.

He trusted Bruce and allowed decisions to be taken off the back of that. He’ll most likely feel now, that that trust has been broken. And with that there could potentially be a return to the chairman’s old ways.

The problem facing Chansiri is that Bruce wasn’t around long enough to be able to tell if going for a more old-fashioned, no nonsense, traditional British manager was the way to go. Or if he was right to offer a little more managerial autonomy than he had before.

Bruce was popular with Wednesday fans but was that clouded by the fact that he just wasn’t Jos Luhukay?

When the former Aston Villa manager came in in February he had a look at everyone, there was a reasonable new boss bounce, results were good on the whole and the feel-good factor was back.

Was that, however, a reflection on what had gone on previous to Bruce’s arrival?

And what of the way in which Bruce has gone about leaving S6? If that doesn’t leave a bitter taste, then nothing will.

All of these things are now going to be turning over in Chansiri’s head as he sets about bringing in the fourth manager of his four-and-a-half year reign at Hillsborough.

It could well be a case of once bitten, twice shy.