Blackburn Rovers 2 Birmingham City 1: Imminent change of owners puts Bruce on borrowed time

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The Independent Football

The Birmingham manager Steve Bruce lamented the offside decision that denied his side an equalising goal as Blackburn recorded a fourth straight win but then revealed he has bigger problems on his mind after learning that his club's prospective new owners do not plan to renew his contract.

The bombshell was dropped, Bruce confirmed, in a conversation with the club's plc chairman, David Sullivan, on Friday, when he asked if contract talks suspended during takeover negotiations with Hong Kong businessman Carson Yeung would be resumed.

"I was offered a new deal by the present board in May and accepted it during the summer but when it emerged that the board were in talks about a change of ownership the contract was blocked, if that is the right word," Bruce said.

"I spoke to Mr Sullivan about it on Friday and he said that the vibes coming back from the Chinese consortium are negative. I don't think there is any talk of a new contract. When the new people do take over I'll see exactly what their plans are but at the moment it is not looking too rosy. I now know where I stand at least.

"I'd like to think I've done a good job in the six years I have been here but I know how it is when a new guy comes in. He likes to sweep clean." Bruce has 20 months left on his current deal but seems unlikely to complete it should the takeover go ahead.

Yeung already owns 29.9 per cent of the club and expects to be in full control within two months.

In the meantime, the uncertainty over Bruce's future will not help his team re-establish themselves in the Premier League after winning promotion for the second time last season.

It might be judged that they were a shade unlucky yesterday. A goal down to David Bentley's 14th-minute strike – a low, left-foot shot prefaced by a neat swivelling turn inside the Birmingham box – they felt they had a legitimate equaliser ruled out when Gary McSheffrey was ruled to be offside when he turned home Fabrice Muamba's scuffed shot eight minutes into the second half. It looked marginal at worst.

To rub salt in the wound, Blackburn won a penalty moments later when Johan Djourou brought down Roque Santa Cruz and Benni McCarthy sent Maik Taylor the wrong way from the spot.

"From 1-1, I think we could have gone on and won the game but games turn on decisions like that," Bruce said. "The officials got it wrong and you wonder why they can not use video replays when there is so much at stake."

Perhaps he had a point. But it could also be argued that Blackburn, with Bentley in fine form in a fluid attacking unit, had impressively shrugged off the disappointment of their Uefa Cup exit and might have been further ahead.

It could equally be argued that Birmingham's resurgence, rewarded when Cameron Jerome lashed the ball into the roof of the net with 23 minutes left and which would have been complete had Brad Friedel not made a stoppage time save from Olivier Kapo's header, came about only after injuries to Tugay Kerimoglu and Robbie Savage forced the home side to remodel their midfield.

Goals: Bentley (14) 1-0; McCarthy pen (55) 2-0; Jerome (67) 2-1.

Blackburn Rovers (4-2-3-1): Friedel; Emerton, Samba, Ooijer, Warnock; Savage (Mokoena 57), Tugay (Derbyshire 57); Dunn (McCarthy h-t), Bentley, Pedersen; Santa Cruz. Substitutes not used: Brown (gk), Khizanishvili.

Birmingham City (4-1-3-2): Taylor; Kelly, Djourou, Ridgewell, Queudrue; Nafti (Danns 72); Larsson, Muamba (Palacios 61), McSheffrey (O'Connor 61); Kapo, Jerome. Substitutes not used: Kingson (gk). Schmitz.

Referee: M Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear)

Booked: Blackburn Tugay, Warnock, Bentley. Birmingham Jerome.

Man of the match: Bentley.

Attendance: 19,316.

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