Stephen Roger Bruce

(born December 31, 1960, in Corbridge, near Hexham in England) is an English football manager currently in charge of Birmingham City.

As a player Bruce started as a midfielder but translated into a powerful and dependable centre-back who many described as the best player of the 80s and 90s never to appear for England, although he captained the England 'B' team in a 1987 match against Malta. He was eligible to play for the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland but did not make himself available to those sides.

Playing career

Bruce began his footballing career with Gillingham in Kent upon leaving school in the summer of 1977. In 1978 he made his debut and was a first-team regular for six years.

Bruce was transferred to Norwich City in 1984 for a fee of £130,000. He suffered the misfortune of scoring an own goal on his debut in a 3-3 draw against Liverpool, but soon settled in to become a rock in the Canaries' defence. In 1985 Norwich were relegated from the top flight just weeks after a win over Sunderland in the League Cup final. Bruce had scored Norwich's winning goal in a tense semi-final against local rivals Ipswich Town, heading in from a corner kick with four minutes left to play. He was voted Norwich City player of the year at the end of that first season with the club. Norwich won promotion back to the first division as champions at the first time of asking in the 1985-86 season, and Bruce was a major figure again for the club the following season as they secured what was then their highest ever league finish of fifth position. Bruce was transferred to Manchester United for £825,000 in December 1987, just before his 27th birthday. Norwich fans remembered his contribution, however, and in 2002 voted him into the Norwich City F.C. Hall of Fame.

Personal information
Full name Stephen Roger Bruce
Date of birth December 31, 1960 (1960-12-31)
Place of birth    Corbridge, England
Playing position Defender
Club information
Current club Birmingham City
Senior clubs1
Years Club App (Gls)*
1977-1984
1984-1987
1987-1996
1996-1998
1998-1999
 
Gillingham
Norwich City
Manchester United
Birmingham City
Sheffield United
 
205 (29)
141 (14)
306 (36)
072 0(2)
010 0(0)   
Teams managed
1998-1999
1999-2000
2001
2001
2001-
Sheffield United
Huddersfield Town
Wigan Athletic
Crystal Palace
Birmingham City
1 Senior club appearances and goals
counted for the domestic league only.
* Appearances (Goals)

Steve Bruce made his Manchester United debut in a game against Portsmouth on 19 December 1987 and went on to score 51 goals in 414 appearances for the club in eight and a half years, including a memorable double against Sheffield Wednesday in 1993 which has prompted the term "BRUUUUCE!!!", as commentated by Barry Davies, [1] to become an internationally used catchphrase for when something goes in one's favour. He amazingly finished the 1990/91 campaign as United's third top goalscorer behind Mark Hughes and Brian McClair with 19 goals, helped by accuracy from the penalty spot, 11 in fact. Bruce helped United win three Premiership titles (1993, 1994 and 1996), three FA Cups (1990, 1994 and 1996, although he played no part in the 1996 final), one Football League Cup and one Cup Winners' Cup (1991). He took over from Bryan Robson as club captain in 1991 and got the position full time when Robson left three years later. As captain he helped United to the league title in 1993 - scoring two late goals against Sheffield Wednesday at Old Trafford - and again in 1994, forming a formidable partnership with Gary Pallister at the heart of a defence that lost only four league matches all season. That same year he led United to FA Cup glory against Chelsea and to the League Cup final against Aston Villa. The following season he was once again ever present at the heart of the United back line, but was unable to add any medals to his collection as United were pipped to the Premiership title by Blackburn Rovers and defeated in the FA Cup final by Everton. The following season, which was to be his last at Old Trafford, more than compensated for a barren previous campaign. Bruce once again was a linchpin at the heart of a United defence that managed to overcome a 12 point deficit to Newcastle United at Christmas to lift the Premiership trophy on the last day of the season. However, a week later Bruce was left out of United's squad for the 1996 FA Cup final against Liverpool. Despite the fact that Bruce was club captain, he insisted that match winner Éric Cantona lift the trophy at Wembley in an almost unprecedented show of professionalism. Within two weeks, however, he had joined Birmingham City on a free transfer.

In two seasons at Birmingham, Bruce was a regular first team player and continued to perform at a high level but was unable to get them promoted to the Premiership.

Managerial career

At the end of the 1997-98 season Bruce became player-manager of Sheffield United, bringing in John Deehan as his assistant. The Blades could not manage anything more than a mid table finish in 1998-99. The 38-year-old Bruce played his last competitive game at the end of the 1998-99 season, bringing down the curtain on an illustrious playing career stretching back more than 20 years. Feeling let down by the board, Bruce resigned.

Bruce was then appointed Huddersfield Town manager and in his first season they narrowly missed out on the Division One playoffs. The Terriers finished in eighth place, with only a dismal end to the season costing them a place in the play-offs - they won only two of their final seven games to miss out by two points. That was just a hint of what was to come for Huddersfield as they started the 2000/01 season in disastrous form, winning only one of their first 13 League and Cup games.

Owner Barry Rubery had seen enough, and Bruce was sacked in October after a disappointing defeat at Grimsby Town sent them to the foot of the table.

In March he was appointed Wigan Athletic manager. They reached the Division Two playoffs but lost in the semi-finals.

After just seven weeks with Wigan, Bruce was appointed manager of Crystal Palace and finally appeared to be on the road to success in management when a strong start to the 2001-02 season saw most people tip Palace for promotion to the Premiership.

After just four months at Palace, Bruce returned to Birmingham City as manager. This prompted animosity toward Bruce from the Crystal Palace fans and also the Chairman, Simon Jordan. On his arrival, Birmingham were mid table in Division One and the realistic target for the 2001-02 season was to consolidate rather than push for promotion. But he guided them into the playoffs and they beat Norwich City on penalties in the final to end a 16-year absence from the top division.

In 2002-03, Birmingham finished 13th in the Premiership and the following season climbed to 10th place in the final table. In 2004-05, they finished in 12th place.

In August 2004 Bruce was linked with the manager's job at Newcastle but he turned it down and chose to stay at Birmingham for at least another three seasons. Following the sacking of Graeme Souness as Newcastle manager on 2 February 2006, Bruce was again being mentioned as a possibility for the job, most likely due to his childhood roots in Northumberland and affinity for the club as a youth:

"I have always been a Newcastle lad and when I was a kid, I crawled under the turnstiles to get in to try and save a bob or whatever it was," Bruce told Sky Sports News on 3 February 2006. "They were my team, I went to support them as a boy and being a Geordie it's in-bred in you, you follow the club still the same today."

However, he then said "At the moment, I am just concentrating on Birmingham as I have got a big job here, with the huge task of keeping us in the Premier League and that is all I am focusing on at the moment."

By this point of the season, the team were in some trouble in the league, and on 21 March 2006, Birmingham City were beaten 7-0 at home by Liverpool in the FA Cup Quarter Finals[2]. Despite calls for his resignation by some supporters of the club, Bruce insisted that he would fight on as manager [3].

Following a 3-0 defeat at former club Manchester United, Bruce's side managed a highly creditable 0-0 draw with Chelsea, followed by a 1-0 home win against Bolton Wanderers, which lifted Birmingham out of the relegation zone. However, it was not to last, and the team was relegated before the final day of the season.

On 4 January 2007, Bruce was named as the Championship Manager of the Month for December, although Birmingham were eventually overtaken by Billy Davies' Derby County.

2006-07 season

Birmingham made a slow start to the 2006-07 season in the Football League Championship and after a 1-0 home defeat to Norwich City fans again began calling for Bruce to go.

The pressure eased somewhat when in Bruce's seeming 'decider game' the Blues recorded a 1-0 victory thanks to a goal from Stephen Clemence. Surprisingly the travelling army of Birmingham supporters at the end of the match chanted Bruce's name Potatoe head, to which the Birmingham manager responded by giving a grin. The sale of defender Matthew Upson to West Ham for £6 million enraged Bruce, who felt that the player was snatched from underneath him and sold without the board consulting him-however Upson had made it very clear that he wanted the move, and chairman David Gold argued that having such a player on board would be a detriment to the team's promotion chances. The situation was terribly ironic, comparable with the many prize assets of other teams that Bruce, some say unfairly, hassled into selling- such players include Rowan Vine (Luton Town), Gary McSheffrey (Coventry City) and others-for some of the supporters of these clubs,as well as Bruce himself going on strike when at Norwich inorder to join Manchester United, made Bruce's complaints sound more than just a little hypocritical.

On April 29, Birmingham secured promotion to the Premiership with one match to play, by virtue of Derby County's 2-0 loss at Crystal Palace.

Managerial stats

As of 1 June 2007.
Team From To Record
G W L D Win %
Sheffield United July 2, 1998 May 17, 1999 55 22 18 15 40.00
Huddersfield Town May 24, 1999 October 16, 2000 66 25 25 16 37.87
Wigan Athletic April 4, 2001 May 29, 2001 8 3 3 2 37.50
Crystal Palace May 31, 2001 November 2, 2001 18 11 5 2 61.11
Birmingham City December 12, 2001 Present 255 96 91 68 37.64
Sporting positions
Norwich City Captain
1986-1987
Sheffield United F.C. manager
1998-1999
Huddersfield Town F.C. manager
1999-2000
Wigan Athletic F.C. manager
2001
Crystal Palace F.C. manager
2001
Birmingham City F.C. manager
2001-Present
Manchester United Captain
1994-1996

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