SPORTS:Steve Bruce explains why he walked away from promoted Hull 3 weeks before the season
Riding his bike along the seafront on Portugal’s Algarve in the late afternoon sunshine last August, the enormity of turning his back on the Premier League suddenly hit Steve Bruce .
After winning instant promotion back to the big time with Hull , Bruce walked away from the KCOM Stadium — only three weeks before
the new season started — after one row too many with Tigers chief Ehab Allam.
With no immediate prospects of a job, Bruce wondered just what he’d done – but the doubts lasted only seconds.
“It was the strangest moment," said the 56-year-old. "There I was, riding my bike on the promenade near Vilamoura, and the results were coming in on the opening day.
“Hull had beaten Leicester, but for the first time in 40 years, since 1976, I wasn’t involved with a team on the first day of season.
“I’d been sacked before and not in the game, but I’d never not been in work when a season was starting, so it was all a bit strange.
“It was the first time I’d had time out from the game and I chose it to be that way so there were no regrets. It was the summer, the weather was great and I was thinking, ‘Everyone is back at work! Lovely.’”
Leaving Hull on the eve of the season was the hardest – and easiest – move Bruce has ever had to make, after realising he couldn’t work with Ehab, son of the club’s owner Assem Allam.
“It’s fair to say we didn’t see eye to eye and it couldn’t go on, we had to split up,” said Bruce. “We were spending all our energy fighting each other.
“I got on spectacularly well with the father at Hull and the honorary president, Peter Chapman, but the owner got sick and his son wanted to run the show differently to me.
“OK, it was his club and his perogative to do it his way. But it wasn’t the way I wanted.
“I’d been managing there four years and we had two promotions, a Cup Final, Wembley three times and played in Europe – it was a fantastic time. I’d had the say on everything, but that wasn’t going to happen any more.
“But it was the best way forward for the club and me, because there was no way me and the son were seeing eye to eye on practically anything.”
Bruce enjoyed time at his villa in Portugal, but then started “hovering like a great big bloody vulture waiting for someone to mess up”.
The call he waited for eventually came from Aston Villa after they sacked Roberto di Matteo in October – and he didn’t hesitate.
"I never thought Villa would come up after 11 games, but that’s what it is now,” he said. “You have to make an impact, otherwise you are under immediate pressure and that’s where it’s changed.
“Usually, you might get some time, but not now.
"You hope for results to buy you time and keep your head above water while quietly and efficiently you get your team together.”
Sitting in his office at Villa’s Bodymore Heath training ground, Bruce knows the club’s situation doesn’t match up to the impressive facilities around him – but he’s determined to put that right.
“My first thought was this is the biggest club I’ve had the chance to manage and that opinion hasn’t changed after getting crowds of 42,000 against Burton and Leeds,” said Bruce, before Sunday's visit to Spurs in the FA Cup third round.
“This is the best Tottenham team I’ve ever seen and I wanted to turn the TV off against Chelsea [on Wednesday night] – they were that good!
“This game should be a top-end Premier League clash, but we aren’t up there and there’s a lot of work to be done.
“I’m confident we can put the club back where it should be — the last four times I’ve been in the Championship, I’ve got back in the Premier League.
“It’s the biggest challenge of my career, but I’ve waited 20 years for something like this. I just hope I don’t f**k it up!”
Source: Mirror UK