By Joel Roberts
Steve Bruce takes charge of West Bromwich Albion for the first time this evening as he returns to one of his old stomping grounds, Sheffield United.
West Brom currently sit in sixth place in the Championship after sacking Valerian Ismael last week.
Sheffield United have won seven out of the last nine under new boss Paul Heckingbottom after a stuttering first half of the season. The Blades could go level on points with West Brom tonight with a win and with a game in hand.
Bruce, 61, has 1000 games in management under his belt but tonight he goes back to where it all started for him in management.
On 2nd July 1998, Bruce took up the position of player manager at Sheffield United but only played 11 times before retiring as a player.
Steve Bruce oversaw the Blades for just one season, where he guided the side to 8th place in the first division with a win percentage of 39.1%. He left the position after he claimed that there was turmoil in the club’s boardroom and a shortage of funds for transfers.
Players in his side included Dean Saunders, Curtis Woodhouse and former Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder who guided the club from League 1 to the Premier League between 2016 and 2019. Wilder is currently the manager of Middlesbrough, another side currently fighting for promotion back to the topflight.
Bruce’s most memorable moment as manager of the Blades, came in an 1999 FA cup tie against Arsenal at Highbury.
Arsenal had taken the lead through Patrick Viera however the visitors found an equaliser through Brazilian forward Marcelo.
With 14 minutes left and the scores still level, United keeper Alan Kelly kicked the ball out of play due to an injury to Lee Morris.
However, when Arsenal threw the ball back to United as a gesture of sportsmanship, new Arsenal signing Nwankwo Kanu latched onto the ball and crossed the ball to Marc Overmars who scored, leaving the Blades furious and in disbelief.
Bruce attempted to beckon his players off the pitch as a sign of protest but his assistant John Deehan persuaded him to let the game play on.
Arsene Wenger agreed for the game to be replayed due to the controversy in which Arsenal won 2-1 once again.
However, Steve Bruce’s managerial time has been scrutinised many times. over his career he has made the cross city switch on multiple occasions.
Starting with Sheffield United, he would later go on to manage arch-rivals Sheffield Wednesday further down the road. He has also managed his home team Newcastle but prior to that managed arch rivals Sunderland.
In the midlands, Bruce has also been at the helm at Birmingham and Aston Villa, before now moving to another midlands team now with West Brom.
Bruce has only had a win percentage higher than 50% at one club which is Crystal Palace, where he managed 18 games in 2001.
Over the course of his 1000 games in management, Bruce has a win percentage of 37.6%.
Taking over a big club such as West Brom will be a challenge when not too long ago they were in the automatic spots for promotion. After a dip of form, will Bruce be able to get their promotion trail back on track?