Steve Bruce leaves a third consecutive job on a tidal wave of ill-feeling | Football


Last Saturday marked the first anniversary of the Saudi takeover of Newcastle, an event that prompted scenes of unbridled jubilation from hundreds of fans outside St James’ Park after their club had endured 14 years of largely crushing tedium under the stewardship of Mike Ashley. Less than a fortnight later, the new owners of the club sacked Steve Bruce, an event which prompted scenes of etc, and so on from tens of thousands of fans who had long been worn down by an avant garde approach to management that appeared to revolve around looking haggard, parking the bus and hoofing the ball long to Joelinton, giving underperforming players too many days off and complaining about referees while pointing out that he isn’t one to complain about referees.

Newcastle supporters unveil a huge new banner during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Brentford
One year on … Photograph: Alex Dodd/CameraSport/Getty Images

A few days after being handed his P45 and a reported £8m pay-off, Bruce looked a picture of rude health as he was spotted watching England get beaten by New Zealand in the semi-final of the T20 World Cup in Dubai. And as luck would have it, his diary has just been freed up in time for this year’s tournament, which kicks off in Australia next Sunday. Whether or not he’ll be travelling to root for England remains to be seen, although after leaving three consecutive jobs on a tidal wave of fan ill-feeling, a few weeks of relative anonymity in a country far away and full of other blokes named Bruce could be just the tonic.

“West Bromwich Albion have today parted company with manager Steve Bruce,” droned a statement from the Hawthorns on Monday morning. “Backroom staff Steve Agnew, Stephen Clemence and Alex Bruce have also left.” The decision to pull the trigger on Bruce and his coaching team was taken on the back of a scoreless draw with Luton at the weekend, a result which leaves the Baggies in the relegation zone with just one win out of 13 this season and well on course to achieve their recently departed manager’s goal of leading them out of the Championship.

So what now for Bruce, who has notched up 1,030 appearances in the dugout, a figure that is undeniably impressive, even if a win-rate of less than 26% in his most recent gig was the least impressive of his career? Having announced that he might retire due to the emotional strain of the abuse he shipped while in charge of Newcastle, Bruce decided to saddle up and ride again when West Brom came calling, and has been the target of no end of opprobrium from Baggies fans who realised this particular jig was up long before their club’s owners did. After 22 years on the managerial merry-go-round during which he managed 11 different clubs, he’s had a decent knock and now might be a good time to announce he is stepping off, before he is left to spin in perpetuity alongside the ghosts of managers past such as Dvd Lry, Alan Curbishley and John Gregory. That or enjoy some cricket and wait for a crack at the Liverpool job, which could soon become vacant.


Will Unwin will be here for hot Premier League MBM coverage of Nottingham Forest 1-0 Aston Villa from 8pm BST.


“[Iker] Casillas and [Carles] Puyol joking and making fun out of coming out in football is disappointing. It’s a difficult journey that any LGBTQ+ [people] have to go through. To see my role models and legends of the game make fun out of coming out and my community is beyond disrespectful” – Adelaide United’s Josh Cavallo reacts to a tweet – since deleted – in which Casillas claimed he was gay, prompting Puyol to jokily imply he was in a relationship with the former Real Madrid goalkeeper. Casillas later apologised and – lamentably – claimed his account was hacked.

Iker Casillas in Madrid earlier in 2022.
Sigh. Photograph: SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

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“Re: the dark-web Fiver Wiki link (Fiver letters passim). Argh, I can’t bear to watch everyone struggle. Big Website’s trackers will always muck up web archive links. Please tell the historically curious to go here instead. In return I’m putting ‘Guardian IT support’ on my CV and I expect you to give me a good word when they check my references” – Samuel Hanks.

“How I chuckled at Friday’s Fiver while reading about the murderous housewife who cooked the murder weapon and fed it to the police. I watched much Tales of the Unexpected in my formative years but the two that I always recall are the ‘leg of lamb’ episode and the other being the elderly landlady who runs a B&B and embalms her guests after drugging them with a dodgy cup of tea! Great memories, thanks Fiver! Keep up the work” – Jon Ward.

“I loved your opening gambit on Friday. I have just retired from teaching Spanish people our wonderful language, and one of the TV shows I used to show them was Tales of the Unexpected. I would ask them to try and guess what would happen. In the episode you reference, no one guessed, including me. From memory, I believe the investigating officer was Brian Blessed” – Phillip Duffy.

“Please let this finally give Steve Bruce the time to pen more Steve Barnes novels. ‘Keeper!’? ‘Midfielder!’? ‘First-team Coach!’? ‘P45!’?” – Darren Leathley.

Send your letters to And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’ the day is … Samuel Hanks [fingers crossed – Fiver Ed].

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