AS a one-time team-mate turned Premier League combatant, Mark Robins can recall plenty of occasions when he was on the end of Steve Bruce’s right boot.
Now, however, the Huddersfield Town manager is hoping to get one over his pal when the two men go head-to-head as managers this Saturday.
“Steve is a real competitor,” said Robins ahead of the meeting with promotion-chasing Hull City at the John Smith’s Stadium.
“He was as a player and is exactly the same as a manager. Playing against Steve (for Norwich and Leicester City), I saw quite a lot of him. And certainly his right boot.
“No, seriously, Steve is a good guy and has done brilliantly well. It is no surprise to me that he has got Hull City fighting at the right end of the table.”
Bruce had already moved to Old Trafford from Norwich City when Robins made his debut in a 3-1 win over Liverpool on New Year’s Day, 1989. The pair went on to play a pivotal role in Sir Alex Ferguson winning the first trophy of his reign, the 1990 FA Cup.
There were times, however, when Ferguson was – according to Robins – not always so happy with a central defender who went on to lift the Premier League title.
The Huddersfield manager said: “Steve was a good player. Though, I do remember there were a few occasions when the manager was pulling his hair out because of Steve.
“A long ball would come from the opposing team and Steve had the confidence to peel away from who he was marking and bring it down on his chest.
“I don’t think that went down brilliantly at the time (with Ferguson), but Steve was great to play with.”
Town’s preparations for Saturday’s televised all-Yorkshire encounter are likely to include a couple of days away at St George’s Park, the Football Association’s new training complex.
Robins plans to take his squad away tomorrow to work on a full-sized grass pitch, which for the past week has proved impossible due to snow.
The Town manager is meanwhile waiting to welcome back the five members of his squad who have been away on international duty.
Jermaine Beckford has suffered a cracked knuckle while playing for Jamaica, but is expected to be available to face the Tigers.
Robins said: “Becks has a slight crack from last week’s game, but he was due to play for Jamaica (last night against Costa Rica).
“As for everyone else, we are keeping our fingers crossed that they come back okay.
“It is important we get everyone back in the building fit and ready to play against Hull.”