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Last Updated: Monday, 30 April 2007, 16:10 GMT 17:10 UK
Pallister salutes Bruce and Keane

By Caroline Cheese

Sunderland boss Roy Keane (left) and and Birmingham's Steve Bruce
Keane (left) and Bruce led their clubs to automatic promotion

The promotion of Birmingham and Sunderland to the Premiership means Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson will lock horns with three of his former players next season.

Blues boss Steve Bruce will taste life as a manager in the top flight again, while Roy Keane has taken the Black Cats up in his first season in charge, joining Blackburn's Mark Hughes as a Premiership manager.

Their former United team-mate Gary Pallister says it is no coincidence that Ferguson's former charges have enjoyed such success.

"If you could bottle what Ferguson has, we'd probably have some better home-grown managers in the Premiership," he told BBC Sport.

"The thing about him is he has this fearsome reputation, but there's so much more to him than the screaming and shouting. There's a caring side to him as well. If you had any problems on or off the pitch, you could always go and talk to him.

I never thought Roy would go into management

Gary Pallister
"You can talk about all the great coaching in the world, but at this level, when you're dealing with top players, it's all about how you manage them and get the best out of them.

"I don't know if you can learn that, but I'm sure Roy and Brucey have benefitted from seeing the way Sir Alex works."

Still, there was some surprise when Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn persuaded Keane to take over the hotseat at the Stadium of Light in August - and Pallister admits he would not have picked the combative midfielder as a future manager.

"I never thought he would go into management," he said. "But the Roy Keane I saw when I left United (in 1998) wasn't the Roy Keane of today.

"I think he took stock of his life and his career when he got a cruciate ligament injury in 1998 which threatened his career.

"He has spoken about the things he did wrong in the early part of his career, with the drinking etc, but he's a different animal now. He matured and got a different focus on life and he's just taken that on into management."

And Pallister believes Keane has at least two qualities in common with his former manager.

"Roy is very much his own man. He's very single-minded and he won't be swayed by too many people. I think he's learnt that from Ferguson.

"He's got that fear factor as well. Players know if they cross him he'll come down on them like a ton of bricks. It's another vital quality in a manager and he's got it in abundance."

Alex McLeish, Scotland
Mark Hughes, Blackburn
Steve Bruce, Birmingham
Roy Keane, Sunderland
Paul Ince, Macclesfield
Mark Robins, Rotherham
Gordon Strachan, Celtic
Chris Casper, Bury
Darren Ferguson, Peterborough
Managers currently in work who have played under Sir Alex Ferguson

Unlike Keane, Pallister says his former central defensive partner Bruce was always a manager-in-waiting.

"You would never have guessed Roy would be a manager - and I would say the same thing about Paul Ince (now manager of Macclesfield) and Mark Hughes. There wasn't anything that gave away they were even thinking about it.

"Brucey was a bit different. I think we all expected it with him."

Bruce has endured a rollercoaster season with Birmingham. As recently as October, some fans were calling for his head after a 1-0 defeat to Norwich saw the Blues slip to ninth in the Championship.


But Pallister said: "I think resiliance is one of the qualities Sir Alex looks for in a captain and that's what Steve has shown this season because it's been difficult.

"The fans were clamouring for his head and then in January, Matthew Upson was sold against his wishes when the club felt they couldn't turn down the offer. That was a hell of a blow.

"He's had some hurdles to overcome but he's done a fantastic job to get Birmingham back up to the Premiership at the first attempt and likewise with Roy.

"It was a great opportunity for Roy at a big club but ultimately he has to be the driving force. He's had to learn and grow up quickly in the manager's role.

"To take a team that was second bottom when he took over to automatic promotion, I think it makes him a candidate for manager of the year."

Sunderland start promotion party
30 Apr 07 |  Sunderland
Bruce relieved by Blues promotion
30 Apr 07 |  Birmingham City
Birmingham & Sunderland promoted
29 Apr 07 |  Championship
Quinn astonished by Keane success
29 Apr 07 |  Sunderland
Keane's Sunderland success story
05 Mar 07 |  Sunderland


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