Sheffield United have come a long way since Steve Bruce was given the role of player-manager back in 1998.
The Blades have been up to the Premier League twice since then, come back down twice, and spent six seasons in League One in between. Bruce, meanwhile, has gone on to manage more than ten other clubs, including local rivals Sheffield Wednesday.
Of course, Bruce is now in charge of Championship rivals and fellow promotion hopefuls West Brom. The Baggies are expected to be one of the favourites to push for a top six spot at the very least, with Bruce’s experience seen as vital to getting them up the table.
For United fans, memories of Bruce are dominated by his call to take the players off the pitch at Highbury. But speaking to The Telegraph, Bruce has said that his year at United offered him a sharp learning curve ahead of a long managerial career ahead.
“It was my first job and I will always be grateful to them for giving me my first chance as player-manager, which was practically impossible. I learned very quickly about managing a football team, but also managing above and the power struggles that take place. That seems to have gone on for most of the last 20 years. Not easy, but a very sharp learning curve,” Bruce told The Telegraph.
Our View: Bruce Deserves More Credit Than He Sometimes Gets
He might be viewed by some as being behind the times a bit now thanks to underwhelming spells with Newcastle, Sheffield Wednesday, and so far, West Brom.
However, Steve Bruce is a manager who has been there and seen it all. He’s reached over 1000 games as a manager across a 20+ year career. Not many can say they’ve done that, and his comments in the article above about the likes of Pep Guardiola and Sir Alex Ferguson show how respected he is.
Bruce was only at Sheffield United for a season but it’s nice to hear him recognise the role we played in his career.