Steve Bruce’s unique brand of managerial magic | Football


WEST BROM GONE SOUTH

The former Sheffield United, Huddersfield Town, Wigan Athletic, Crystal Palace, Birmingham City, Sunderland, Hull City, Aston Villa, Sheffield Wednesday and Newcastle United boss Steve Bruce is having a hard time of it at his current club West Bromwich Albion. Despite a glittering managerial career of skyscraping achievement, during which he’s nearly won the Second Division title on two separate occasions, and shipped a two-goal lead in the FA Cup final, poor Steve has sometimes had trouble convincing the masses of a talent that has repeatedly and deservedly earned him all these chances to shine. Such a shame, and it’s this unfortunate and inexplicable inability to connect with the people that has plunged him chin deep into a merry puddle yet again.

Bruce’s current problems stem from the fact that he’s only won eight of his 30 games since taking over at the Hawthorns from Valérien Ismaël earlier this year. West Brom have spent most of the 21st century on the mezzanine, along with other proverbial Premier League bad pennies such as Norwich, Watford and Sheffield United. But while those clubs are currently making a half-decent fist of getting back into the big time for another glamorous season in the sun – 15 home losses, a goal difference of minus 75, last slot on Match of the Day every week with the sole exception of the time they lose 7-0 at the Etihad, all that – Albion are flailing around near the bottom of the Championship table, having won just one of their 11 fixtures so far. In short, the Baggies are jiggered, and the natives are restless, no longer willing to afford Bruce any more time and space to weave his unique brand of managerial magic.

“Change is for other people to decide,” says Bruce, who may be in real trouble if his team somehow conspire to lose Wednesday’s fixture against Preston North End Nil. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and in lieu of a clear philosophy and/or coherent tactical plan, a rousing speech will have to do. “I’m convinced we’ll turn it round,” he yawned. “Let’s keep bashing away and see where we can go with it.” Stirring stuff from the big man, and if that doesn’t ensure the Baggies come away from Deepdale with at least a point, after playing their part in Preston’s sixth goalless draw in a dozen games, nothing will. But if the worst should happen, West Brom lose, and Bruce gets boing-boinged out on his ear, we’re pretty sure he’ll find another club to take him on soon enough. Why? The Fiver has absolutely no idea. But we’re pretty sure someone will.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY

“I’m really unhappy. I feel there is real injustice. The referee should be out here explaining why he makes these decisions, if he made mistakes or not. That would humanise them a lot more … we are offended today” – Xavi can’t get his head round a series of VAR handball decisions that went against Barça in their 1-0 Big Cup defeat at Inter, the last of which seemed so blatant it made Pippo Inzaghi look more sheepish than an embarrassed Welsh lamb.

Simone Inzaghi, Denzel Dumfries’ handball and Xavi’s reaction.
A face that launched a thousand memes. Composite: BT Sport

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