Bruce prepares for Blades fight

Time has mellowed Steve Bruce as a manager but he is prepared to go "off the wall" if his Hull team book an FA Cup final place.

Last Updated: 11/04/14 at 13:12 Post Comment

Steve Bruce: In good spirits ahead of Hull's FA Cup tie

Steve Bruce: In good spirits ahead of Hull's FA Cup tie

Time has mellowed Steve Bruce as a manager but he is prepared to go "off the wall" if his Hull team book a place in the FA Cup Final by beating the side which gave him his chance.

Fifteen years have passed since the former Manchester United defender was installed as the boss of Sheffield United, with Hull now his eighth managerial post at the age of 53.

The spell with the Blades was a short-lived one of just a year - typical of Bruce's early days in the dugout when he had three jobs in little more than 12 months - and he and United will meet again at Wembley on Sunday.

Leading a team out at the national stadium will be a career highlight for Bruce, who has found a little more stability in this later years, and he admits that he would not be where he is now without the opportunities he was given then.

"I'll be eternally grateful to them because the one thing it did was give me a chance in management," said Bruce, who walked out of Bramall Lane because of boardroom problems.

"It put me on a learning curve, very quickly. I think I had six chief execs in one year and they were difficult times. That's an understatement."

Quitting the Blades was followed by a time at Huddersfield - who sacked him - and brief spells with Wigan and Crystal Palace which ended of his own accord.

Bruce can now admit that he did not always go about things the right way in those days.

"When I was younger, I was a nightmare. I let people down," he said.

"I resigned from Sheffield because things were promised to me that were not forthcoming. I let people down when I was younger, certainly in management. Simon Jordan (at Palace) comes rushing back to me.

"I was a little bit headstrong and when you're younger, you want to take on the world.

"The good thing about management is that experience helps you because something comes along your way every single day, something different and I think you learn.

"At first, you try to prove yourself to the boss, when you're new into it. You want to know who makes the tea. It doesn't make any difference. I resigned twice in three years. I was going through a power battle at Sheffield United in the days I didn't even know what a power battle was."

Bruce's time with Sheffield United is most memorable for when he took his players off in an FA Cup tie at Arsenal after the home side scored a goal when they had been given the ball back following an injury - an incident Bruce can laugh about now.

"I'd only been managing six months. I was nearly arrested. A police officer came in and said 'if you don't take the team back out on the pitch, you'll end up in the nick'," he said.

As the years have passed Bruce has found something approaching longevity. Six successful years at Birmingham were followed by retrospectively good times with Wigan and Sunderland.

The latter sacked him, though, and Hull took him on in the Championship. He led them to promotion in his first year and this FA Cup run comes in his second.

"John Benson (one of Bruce's coaching mentors) who unfortunately is not with us now, was a fantastic help to me in that respect," he added.

"I wish I'd started with him because of his experience. I needed someone with grey hair - now I'm the one with grey hair.

"John would say 'Steve, don't worry about anything like that, just win on Saturday'. In football management, that's that all that matters. How right he is.

"You can do what you want on a Saturday. You can be off the wall, totally different. If you win on a Saturday, you can get away with it. If you get beat, then it's totally different."

In a further demonstration of how Bruce has grown into being a manager, he will stand pitchside at Wembley and likely see a number of himself looking back at him.

Hull fans have taken to wearing masks of his face in order to celebrate his achievements with them since taking the job.

"Oh dear, that's all I need," he said.

"I'm going to take it all in good humour, I just hope the kids aren't frightened by these masks. It's a bit tongue-in-cheek. Why not?

"I don't mind getting masks - at my last club, they threw darts at me. How fickle this football world is."


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