Martin Hardy: Steve Bruce rolls up his sleeves at Hull after being 'badly hurt' by Sunderland sack

Life Beyond The Premier League

"Fifty for 5," roars Steve Bruce. "I've gone over to Dubai with my wife to watch England play Pakistan. It was a lifelong ambition to see a Test match abroad and then they were 50 for 5. I thought, 'Bloody hell, I've jinxed them as well!'"

There is more laughter. A 10-month sabbatical since leaving Sunderland has done Bruce good. He seems happy to be back. A winning football team (Hull City are fourth in the Championship) helps.

Bruce was 50 when the axe fell amid the vitriol at the Stadium of Light. He went away and licked his wounds, travelled the world (a little bit) and did what all out-of-work managers do. He waited for a call.

"I enjoyed it, I enjoyed having time off," he adds. "I needed a break, it was probably the first time in 35 years I've had a break and it was nice to do nothing. We went to the other side of the world and had a lovely time, but my wife, who knows me better than anyone, knew that once someone came calling, I would go back to work. We all moan when we're in it. We moan even more when we're out of it.

"The big thing is to get back up and running again, you can't stay down for too long. I've been like that all my life. Everyone associates me with Manchester United but I had 10 years in the lower divisions. I'm used to rolling my sleeves up."

Part of Bruce's story is easy to forget. He did a brief apprenticeship on the Tyneside shipyards when he initially failed to make it as a player, a whole week in fact, and he hated it. It was hard, it was freezing and he made the mistake of sitting in someone else's seat when the hooter rang for a dinner break. "This big bloke covered in tattoos came over to me and went, 'Hoo, get oot me seat, I've been sitting there for 20 years.'

"I thought, 'Bloody hell, you can't be sitting there for 20 years!' It was so cold and so tough, they were hard, hard men. To do what they did in the shipyards was incredible, absolutely unbelievable. I have the hugest respect for them."

He went to Gillingham, was paid £8 a week and cleaned the kit. He got a chance at Norwich, struggled and eventually starting hitting the right times for running around the four floodlights at Carrow Road. Only four years later, by which stage he was 26, did Sir Alex Ferguson call. Only then did the decoration as a player – three Premier League titles, three FA Cups, one League Cup and the European Cup-Winners' Cup – begin. In July 1998 he became manager of Sheffield United, then Huddersfield, Wigan, Crystal Palace, Birmingham and Wigan again before he got the nod at Sunderland, 11 years after his first position at Bramall Lane.

"It was strange when I got the sack at Sunderland," he adds. "I'd only had the sack once before, and it was at Huddersfield, much earlier. I was contemplating then if I would do management any more. I'd had a good offer to go into the media, but I turned it down. I'm a football man.

"We made a lot of changes over that summer [at Sunderland], I just thought I deserved a bit more time but people make decisions."

"Five or six" jobs came up in the Premier League which he would have been interested in. Only Wolves came calling, and then backed away. It left Hull City with a clear run for his services after they had sacked Nick Barmby in May. "The big thing was: did I have the enthusiasm to do it and the real passion for the job?" he says. "You have to do a job properly, I'm a big believer in that. You talk to people around you but ultimately you make the decision yourself. Do I have the same enthusiasm? It hurt me badly what happened up the road there but I'm a football man."

He signed six new players. Five of them started at Leeds on Tuesday in a win that was far more comprehensive than the 3-2 scoreline would suggest: Ben Amos on loan from Manchester United, Ahmed Elmohamady on loan from Sunderland, Stephen Quinn from Sheffield United, Sone Aluko from Rangers and his son Alex from Leeds. Nick Proschwitz, his most expensive signing, was on the bench.

"You need a decent start at a new club," Bruce says. That's all it is so far. We might have a sneak if we keep people fit. I wouldn't have come here if, after speaking to the owners, we didn't have a chance to mount some sort of challenge. We were shrewd, they backed me and we've brought decent players in. We're playing nice stuff, I'm enjoying watching us.

"We've still got 40 bloody games to go. Forty games! There's another nine months of this. A lot can change but I like the challenge. We've changed the system a bit, it's been 10 years since I set up a team like that, but at the minute it's working. You're always learning, you can quietly get on with your job, away from the madness. There's a long way to go but we're back up and running."

As is Steve Bruce.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been the teaching profession's favourite teacher
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform