Sheffield Wednesday: Steve Bruce’s style of play, recruitment and legacy according to fans of his former clubs

Steve Bruce’s arrival at Hillsborough is imminent, with the new Owls boss set to address the media on Thursday for the first time.

Wednesday, 30th January 2019, 10:42 am
Updated Wednesday, 30th January 2019, 10:44 am
Steve Bruce. Image: Simon Cooper/PA Wire.

Before his first test in the Wednesday dugout in this weekend’s trip to Ipswich Town in the Championship, we spoke to fans from his former clubs to see what they thought about his time in charge. Here’s what they had to say...

Sunderland - Chris Weatherspoon, author of Short-Changed: The highs and lows of Sunderland AFC

Steve Bruce. Image: Simon Cooper/PA Wire.

Style of play

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His plan revolved around moving the ball quickly and supplying Darren Bent as much as possible. It worked very well and resulted in the most exciting top level football Wearside had seen in years.

Bruce achieved that with a high energy, slightly nasty midfield (best shown with the Lorik Cana-Lee Cattermole partnership) that unnerved plenty of sides and often allowed Sunderland to get on the front foot.

Recruitment

Asamoah Gyan - one of Bruce's better signings at Sunderland.

Mixed. He brought in some genuinely excellent signings - Lee Cattermole, Darren Bent, Asamoah Gyan, to name just three - but also had his share of howlers, usually when trying to dip into the South American market. Examples include Paolo Da Silva, Marcos Angeleri and Cristian Riveros.

The departures of Bent and Jordan Henderson gave Bruce a hefty wallet to work with but he largely squandered it, spending huge amounts on Craig Gardner, £6m, and Connor Wickham, £8m.

Fan view

Ultimately he was one of Sunderland's more successful post-war managers and for two half-seasons his sides played really good and entertaining football. He's seen as someone who was hamstrung by the loss of key players but who also made plenty of errors himself and was fairly one-dimensional. 

Former Sheffield Wednesday player Connor Wickham didn't live up to his price tag at Sunderland.

Legacy

A missed opportunity. Good early season form fell apart in each of his two full terms, and in the third he was afforded a decent budget and wasted it. 

Why did he leave?

One of the things that have sadly soured Bruce's standing with Sunderland fans are his comments since leaving, and his insistence that he was never accepted on Wearside because of his 'Geordie roots'.

Mikael Forssell bagged 19 goals in one season for Birmingham City.

Birmingham City - Chris Pugh, Tilton Talk Show @tiltontalkshow

Style of play

His approach was very much a "build from the back" method. During our four year stint in the Premier League under Bruce, we always tended to struggle to score goals, and it was the defensive work on the training ground that often kept us in games.

Recruitment

In the short term, very good. The first season in the Premier League saw the likes of Robbie Savage and Kenny Cunningham arrive, while the January window was exploited to the full, with additions including Matthew Upson and Christophe Dugarry, signings which ultimately kept us in the division.

Steve Bruce's first match in charge will be against Ipswich Town.

Likewise, the loan acquisition of Mikael Forssell was the major contributor in our second term success, scoring 19 league goals when no other player scored more than five. 

Fan view

In the first two and a half years, he was adored and worshipped by Birmingham supporters. Getting promoted in his first six months, unbeaten against Villa in the four derby matches we played against them, including the double in our first season back, the man could do no wrong.

Unfortunately for Bruce, the expectation of the crowds grew, and rightly or wrongly, he couldn't live up to these, player recruitment veered from the hungry, committed group to the overpaid mercenaries, and this was the beginning of the end for him.

Legacy

Bruce left the legacy of Premier League football for Birmingham. We came so close on so many occasions in the late 1990's and early 2000's, but Bruce was the man to finally get us over the line, and as previously stated, those first two years brought many joyous afternoons and evenings to St Andrews.

Why did he leave?

After promotion back to the Premier League in 2007, there was an ownership battle at Blues and Bruce was caught in the middle of this. He had a contract offer on the table, but the uncertainty over the owners led to uncertainty over his position.