How good is our record against Steve Bruce?
When Newcastle United come to town, there is always memories of the seasons the two sides fought it out at the top of the Premier League.
Indeed, it was the Reds who overcame a 12-point deficit to snatch the title away from the Magpies back in 1996.
But that year was also significant for another reason, as it was Steve Bruce’s last year with United, who now returns to the Old Trafford dugout once again, but wearing the colours of Newcastle United, hoping to steal a shock result as the Magpies try to avoid relegation.
Ahead of Bruce’s return, here is all you need to know about the legendary centre-back, and how he has fared against United as a manager.
BRUCE AS BOSS
Since retiring from professional football in 1999, Brucie has been a virtual ever-present in the dugout, bar a few brief spells of unemployment between jobs.
The former centre-back took charge of Sheffield United (first as player-manager), Huddersfield Town, Wigan Athletic and Crystal Palace, before joining First Division Birmingham in 2001.
Bruce guided the Blues to Premier League promotion at the end of his first campaign in charge at St Andrews, beginning a long and colourful managerial career in the top-flight. The 60-year-old spent six years with the Midlands club, experiencing relegation and promotion again, before returning to Wigan, where he helped establish the unfancied Latics as a mid-table Premier League side.
After a two-year spell at Sunderland came arguably his most impressive feat: taking Hull City, who he managed between 2012 and 2016, to a first-ever FA Cup final in 2014. He also got the Tigers promoted twice but left shortly after play-off final success in 2016.
Spells in the Championship with Aston Villa and Sheffield Wednesday followed, before Steve was appointed boss of Newcastle in July 2019.
HOW HE'S DONE AGAINST UNITED
As a manager, Bruce has famously struggled against his former side. In fact, he only has one win to his name against the Reds in 25 attempts across all competitions.
That win came last season in his first meeting with United as the manager of Newcastle, with debutant Matty Longstaff grabbing the winner at St James’ Park.
Aside from that, Bruce has taken points off us on just five other occasions, only one of which came at Old Trafford – a 2-2 draw with Sunderland in October 2009, when United only salvaged a draw thanks to Anton Ferdinand’s late own goal.
Highlights: Newcastle 1 United 4Video
GAMES TO REMEMBER
Bruce tends to run a tight defensive ship against United, but in his last two meetings with the Reds, United have blown the Magpies away 4-1, despite Bruce’s Magpies scoring first on both occasions.
But our standout win against our former captain came in May 2008, when a 2-0 win over Bruce’s Wigan, thanks to a penalty from Cristiano Ronaldo and a left-footed finish from Ryan Giggs, sealed the Premier League title on the final day. United would go on to win the Champions League in Moscow just 10 days later, denying Chelsea on both occasions.
In more recent memory, United went 2-0 down to Bruce’s Hull City after 13 minutes on Boxing Day 2013, before goals from Chris Smalling, a scorching volley from Wayne Rooney and an own-goal from James Chester sealed a dramatic win.
And later that season, with Giggs as interim manager, James Wilson scored twice on his United debut as we won 3-1 over Bruce’s Hull. But, more significantly, it would be the 963rd and final time the Welshman took to the pitch as a United player.
Highlights: United 4 Newcastle 1Video
HOW HAS HE BEEN GETTING ON?
Following the departure of the popular Rafael Benitez, certain sections of the Newcastle faithful were underwhelmed by the appointment of boyhood fan Bruce. Despite this and many tipping the Magpies to go down last season, Bruce managed to steer Newcastle to safety fairly comfortably, with the north-east club finishing 13th.
This season, with some high-profile additions such as Callum Wilson and Ryan Fraser, many were expecting Bruce to push on and secure Newcastle a top-10 finish, but this hasn’t transpired. Early wins over West Ham, Burnley and a draw away at Tottenham showed promise, but a run of two wins in the last 13 has left Newcastle in 17th, looking over their shoulder to Fulham.
With the Cottagers currently looking at a more favourable run of games than the Toon, a win for the visitors this weekend would be crucial for Bruce to relieve the pressure he is currently facing.