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Friday, 2 November, 2001, 12:48 GMT
A man in a hurry
Birmingham is Bruce's fifth club as a manager
Birmingham is Bruce's fifth club as a manager
BBC Sport Online's Paul Fletcher profiles the managerial career of the man Birmingham City fans hope can at last guide their team into the Premiership.

Steve Bruce finally takes over the reins at St Andrews' after a long and acrimonious wrangle with Crystal Palace.

He began his managerial career on 2 July 1998 when he was appointed player-manager at Sheffield United.

Three years later Bruce - the new manager at Birmingham - is on his fifth club as a manager.

Bruce built his reputation as player on loyal, committed, whole-hearted service but does not seem to apply the same criteria to management.

In leaving Crystal Palace for Birmingham, Bruce has left the team third in Division One for a club six places lower in the table.

Palace were three minutes away from relegation last season but Bruce - appointed days before Palace beat the drop - has quickly revived the club's flagging fortunes.

Bruce was highly respected at Old Trafford
Bruce was highly respected at Old Trafford
His summer signings - Matt Clarke, Tony Popovic and Jovan Kirovski - have performed brilliantly this season and he has a young squad full of talented players.

Less than two weeks ago Palace were top of Division One and appear capable of mounting a serious promotion challenge.

Bruce has left for a club with huge potential, but one that has consistently failed to win promotion to the Premier League despite investing heavily on players.

His decision is a massive gamble and, at first glance, a surprising one.

But Bruce the manager is far removed from the teenager that began his playing career with Gillingham.

The Northumberland-born defender had trials with five league clubs before he signed as an apprentice for the Gills in 1977.

He signed professional forms at Priestfield the following year and went on to enjoy a career that spanned 20 years.

He left Gillingham for Norwich in 1984 and three years later joined Manchester United for 825,000.

After 408 league and cup appearances for the Reds he joined Birmingham and had two seasons at St Andrews before he departed for the player-manager's role at Sheffield United.

Bruce was a firm favourite at every club he played for, respected by manager and fans in equal measure.

Bruce left after 10 months at Sheffield United
Bruce left after 10 months at Sheffield United
The central defender was known as someone who never shirked a tackle, willing to put his body on the line for his team and always saw the job through to the very end.

As a manager Bruce is dangerously close to acquiring a very different reputation.

He took Sheffield United to the verge of the play-offs in his first season in charge at the club.

But he walked out at the end of the campaign, citing broken boardroom promises over money to spend on players.

He had been in charge for less than a year.

Seven days after leaving the Blades, on 24 May 1999, he was appointed manager at Huddersfield Town.

As with United, Bruce's first season in charge at Huddersfield was relatively successful.

Town just missed out on the play-offs and, with money to spend, seemed well positioned to challenge for promotion during the 2000-01 campaign.

But Bruce's team endured a terrible start to the season.

The biggest mistake was believing a great player would make a great manager
Former Huddersfield chairman Barry Rubery
Defeat to Grimsby on 14 October left Town stranded in the relegation zone and Bruce was sacked.

Bruce's chairman at Huddersfield, Barry Rubery, accused Bruce of wasting 3m on players.

"That money could have been spent more wisely by a manager without an ego to feed," said Rubery.

"The biggest mistake I made was believing a great footballer would make a great manager."

Bruce's next stop was the JJB Stadium.

He was appointed Wigan boss in April 2001.

Bruce was in charge until the end of the season - eight games in total - before leaving for Palace, who he viewed as a better prospect.

After just four months at Palace, Bruce has again decided to move to a club he feels has more potential.

Maybe his association with Birmingham will be long and successful but on the evidence so far it seems unlikely.

The values of commitment and loyalty that characterised Bruce's playing career do not seem to be part of his managerial make-up.

Links to more Eng Div 1 stories are at the foot of the page.


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