THE temperature gauge in Steve Bruce’s car read minus 6.5 degrees Celsius as the new Sheffield Wednesday manager drove across the Pennines ahead of his first morning in the job.
Having been basking in the Barbados sunshine just a few days earlier, the 58-year-old could have been forgiven for wondering just what he was doing returning to the treadmill of football management amid weather more akin to the Baltic.
Bruce, however, felt the very opposite. The old butterflies were back in the stomach and he admits to having a similar sense of excitement to the one that accompanied his first drive to the East Riding in 2012 when about to embark on what would prove to be the most successful four years in Hull City’s history
“I remember that drive to Hull,” said the new Owls chief when speaking to The Yorkshire Post. “I had a few of my mates calling to ask, ‘Are you sure you know what you are doing?’
“I thought so then and I had the same feeling this time when I met the chairman (Dejphon Chansiri). As eccentric as he is, I know he wants the club where it wants to be.
“We talked about budgets and he said there is none. But he will try to help me where he can. We know the situation with FFP (Financial Fair Play).
“I am confident, given time, that I can get a team together that can challenge to be where the club needs to be.”
Bruce’s arrival in S6 is something of a coup for Wednesday. With four promotions to the Premier League on his CV, including two with Hull, the 58-year-old was understandably a man in demand after being sacked by Aston Villa in early October.
“I had an offer from the Championship within 20 minutes of leaving Aston Villa,” he says. Another four or five job offers came his way soon after, including a couple from abroad.
However, a desire to take stock after a traumatic few months that had seen Bruce lose both his parents meant all enquiries were rebuffed.
I really don’t think he wants to sell the club. I really don’t. I think he wants the club to be successful and he wants to be the man to takes us there and let’s hope I can do it for him.Steve Bruce
A family holiday to the Caribbean had been booked, Bruce wanting to thank those who had looked after his beloved mother and father back home in the North East while he was busy working at Villa Park.
The plan was to take a break until the summer and then see what was around. A telephone call from Chansiri, however, changed all that.
“He is a bit different,” said Bruce about the Thai businessman who told a fans’ forum shortly before Christmas that the club was up for sale. “I find him humorous. He has got a great sense of humour.
“I really don’t think he wants to sell the club. I really don’t.
“I think he wants the club to be successful and he wants to be the man to takes us there and let’s hope I can do it for him.”
Bruce’s reign in charge of the Owls gets under way this afternoon at Ipswich Town.
Achraf Lazaar and Rolando Aarons, both on loan from Newcastle United, will join fellow deadline-day arrival, Wolverhampton Wanderers full-back Dominic Iorfa, in a squad that will be desperate to impress the new boss.
The trip to the club propping up the Championship starts a run of fixtures in February that includes taking on four of the bottom six.
“It is why I waited until February!” laughed Bruce when asked about his opening month at the helm. “No, seriously, you can never write the script in the Championship. Nothing is a given and that is the beauty of it.
“I have always said the reason players play in the Championship is that they go up and down a bit. You can see a good player play well one week, but then you see them play the following week and think, ‘Now I am not sure’. That is why they play at this level.
“I don’t think anything can be taken for granted in the Championship at all. It will be a difficult game. When (Paul) Lambert is in charge you always know what you are going to get. You know teams are going to be up for it.
“It is always difficult at Ipswich. They are fighting for their lives. They have put up a bit of a fight over the last few weeks and changed the team around from what it was three to four months ago. They have brought one or two players in.
“It is always a difficult place to play. They are another club with history, tradition and support. They have won European trophies and FA Cups in the past, but right now they find themselves at the wrong end of the Championship.”