1,000 games and gone: Looking back on Steve Bruce's managerial career

Steve Bruce's career took him through a string of clubs - from Birmingham to Villa, Hull, and finally - Newcastle. Credit: PA

Did you see it coming?

Steve Bruce has left his position as Newcastle United head coach by mutual consent, just weeks after the club's takeover by a Saudi-led consortium.

To the frustration of fans who expected a marquee managerial signing within a week of the takeover, Bruce led his 1,000th ever game into a devastating loss against Tottenham over the weekend.

When the final whistle blew, the Corbidge-born coach joined a relatively exclusive club.

According to the League Managers Association, only 33 of their members have overseen 1,000 matches.

But now he will never go on to see his 1,001st game as Newcastle's manager.

Bruce announced he would be resigning from the club today, following the team's first defeat under its new ownership.

A club statement confirming Bruce's exit said: "He leaves the Magpies after more than two years in charge, having steered the club to 13th and 12th-place finishes in the Premier League and reaching the quarter-final stage in both the Emirates FA Cup and Carabao Cup during his tenure.

"Newcastle United would like to place on record its gratitude to Steve for his contribution and wishes him well for the future."

Sunday's fixture was an historic occasion, followed just days later by his bombshell resignation.

As Bruce closes the door on the Newcastle era, we have taken a look at the history of his managerial career following his star Manchester United career.

And it will perhaps come as no surprise to Toon fans that their club is where Bruce recorded his worst win rate.

Besides being awarded manager of the month in April 2021 for keeping Newcastle United in the Premier League, Bruce never won a trophy as manager.

His final game as manager ended in a 3-2 home defeat to Tottenham, prompting frustrated fans to renew calls for him to go.

Bruce has faced plenty of both praise and criticism during his long managerial careerr. Credit: PA

Sheffield United player-manager

Off the back of his glittering Manchester United career, a 35-year-old Bruce was recruited by Birmingham City manager Trevor Francis to play in the First Division.

He became one of the highest paid players in the country, but his time with the club was marred by a series of disagreements with Francis.

After two seasons in the midlands, Bruce was hired at player-manager at fellow-First Division side Sheffield United.

He stayed for less than a season before resigning in May, citing a lack of available funds and boardroom disputes.

Bruce featured himself in the line-up on 10 occasions - in none of which did he score one of his trademark centre back goals.

Huddersfield Town

Bruce is said to have been contemplating a media career when Huddersfield Town's Barry Rubery owner persuaded him to take on his first manager-only role.

Despite a strong start, the club failed to reach the play-offs in the 1999-2000 season. Following a poor run of form early in the next season, Bruce was sacked in October 2000.

Speaking to BBC Radio Leeds, Mr Rubery accused Bruce of "having an "ego to feed" and "wasting" £3m on players.

Wigan Athletic and Crystal Palace

Bruce's next managerial stint was at Wigan Athletic - the first of two at the club.

He started there in April 2001 after nine months out of the game. Under Bruce, the club reached the Second Division playoffs but failed to gain promotion.

Bruce resigned almost immediately and became manager of Crystal Palace in the First Division.

Under his management, the club got off to a strong start - flying to the top of the First Division Tables - what seemed like a promising bid to reclaim a Premier League spot was dashed.

Credit: PA

When Bruce suddenly attempted to walk out to take the reins at Birmingham City after just four months, Crystal Palace hit him with an injunction.

Bruce was put on gardening leave, then was eventually allowed to join the West Midlands club and Palace languished in the mid-tables.

Birmingham City

By this point Bruce had developed a reputation as a man on the move, but his six-year run at Birmingham City would come to mark his lengthiest stay as manager.

After his arrival, the club shot from mid-tables to play-offs against Bruce's former team Norwich City, propelling the club back into the Premier League.

Birmingham City dwelled near the bottom rankings but after some plum signings, managed to finish the 2001-2002 season higher than rivals Aston Villa for the first time since the 1970s.

But successive tournaments brought a series of disappointments, and despite signing a five-year contract in 2004 he was quickly rumoured to be in Newcastle United management's sights.

Despite widespread rumours of a £3million compensation offer to Birmingham to bring Bruce Tyne-side, he stayed with the club amid speculation his early departure could have sparked a legal squabble between the sides.

Some fans began to bay for blood after a 7-0 loss to Liverpool in the FA Cup quarter-finals, but Bruce continued on - bringing the side within inches of escaping relegation, only to be pipped by Portsmouth in 2006.

The following year, Birmingham finally secured the promotion, and Bruce was credited by Chairman David Gold for the success, who told the press "There have been some dark days but Steve has been outstanding. He was determined to bounce back. He has rebuilt the team and now we are all back where we want to be."

Wigan Athletic

A prospective new buyer at Birmingham left Bruce uncertain about his future at the club.

Wigan Athletic swooped - paying a then-world record £3m compensation to bring him back on board.

His first game in charge in December 2007 was sealed with a 1-0 win over Manchester United.

He led the Latics through a struggle to maintain a place in the Premier League, but the side managed to slide into victory over Aston Villa in the final game of the season.

His men finished 11th in the 2008-2009 season.


Bruce signed with Sunderland in 2009, and led the side to 13th-place in the Premier League in his first season despite a 14-game run without a single win.

He overhauled the club, signing and selling players at pace and his contracted was extended two years later as management hailed his revamp as breathing fresh life into the squad.

But he was sacked in November 2011 after a run of defeats, culminating in a loss to bottom-placed Wigan.

Bruce later blamed the club's bitter rivalry with his alma mater Newcastle for his dismissal.

Hull City

After winning a three-year contract in 2012, Bruce led the side back into the Premier League - where it went on to place 16th with a club record tally of 37 points.

The also led the Tigers into their first ever FA Cup final, where they narrowly lost to Arsenal.

The achievement led Hull to qualify for the 2014-15 UEFA Europa League, in their first campaign on the continent.

But a run of poor form plunged the side back into relegation, with some pointing the finger at the performance of key Bruce signings.

In 2016, Bruce was vindicated with four Hull victories that scored the boss the EFL Championship Manager of the month award, and the top player nod for his major signing, Abel Hernandez.

A Mohamed Diame goal in the Championship play-off finals against Sheffield Wednesday secured the side's second return to the Premier League under Bruce's leadership.

Hull was in talks to take over as England manager.

He resigned shortly afterward amid speculation he was becoming frustrated about uncertainty over his future at Hull and a lack of transfer activity.

Aston Villa

Bruce led Villa to its first win in 14 games in his second match in charge at the club, but the bright streak was short-lived.

Steve Bruce and John Terry smile for the cameras at Villa Park Credit: PA

After failing to reach the Premier League, Villa drew with bottom-placed Preston North in 2018.

One fan at the match threw a cabbage at the manager as fans demanded he go.

The following day he was sacked.

Sheffield Wednesday

Bruce was picked up the following year by Sheffield Wednesday but delayed his start amid poor health and deaths in the family, following the difficult end to his Villa era.

While he took a break in the sun watching the cricket in the West Indies before beginning, Sheffield suffered a bruising loss to Chelsea.

Football pundits criticised the club and bereaved manager for his absence, but fans hopeful he would bring a spark to the side leapt to defend Bruce.

Despite the loyal support of Owls fans, Bruce's time at Sheffield-Wednesday was short-lived as Newcastle began courting him again within months.

Newcastle United

Bruce's return to his old stomping ground was instantly controversial.

The club was plunged into a legal dispute as Sheffield Wednesday alleged misconduct, citing the speed of his appointment. Newcastle denied any wrongdoing.

Toons fans made it clear the returning manager would have to prove himself to fill popular Newcastle predecessor Rafael Benítez's big boots, and after leading rivals Sunderland.

Bruce made big signings - securing Joelinton for a club transfer fee record £40m, but couldn't shake the team's dismal win rate on his watch.

Watch ITV's report on the Newcastle United takeover:

Newcastle were under fear of relegation during his first season in charge, but managed to scrape through in the bottom ranks.

Some fans hoped he would be sacked or throw in the towel amid the team's purchase by a Saudi-led consortium this October.

But Bruce saw through his 1,000th match under fire, before announcing the weekend's Tottenham drubbing would be his last.

In an interview with the Telegraph opening up about his resignation, Bruce said he had tired of the criticism perhaps most memorably illustrated by a disgruntled fan once throwing a cabbage at him.

He felt he was "never wanted," he told the newspaper.

“To feel that people wanted you to fail, to read people constantly saying I would fail, that I was useless, a fat waste of space, a stupid, tactically inept cabbage-head or whatever. And it was from day one.”