We are in football for games like the Steel City derby, says Sheffield Wednesday manager Steve Bruce

Steve Bruce
Steve Bruce
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Steve Bruce is no stranger to derby nights but still gets excited ahead of his first all-Sheffield affair.

In his playing days, Sheffield Wednesday manager Bruce experienced the fierce nature of playing for Norwich City against Ipswich Town, as well as turning out for Manchester United against City.

Then as a manager he has experienced both sides of the Birmingham derby - having been boss at City and Aston Villa - while also in charge of Sunderland against Newcastle United.

And the common denominator in all those games, for 58-year-old Bruce, is the supporters.

“They are all fierce rivalries, whether it’s Norwich-Ipswich, which I have been involved in, or derbies in Manchester, Tyneside and Birmingham,” said Bruce. “They all have a certain rivalry.

“The one thing for sure in a derby game, it is for the supporters.

“It means something to them it’s been going one for over a 100 years, it hasn’t just appeared. It’s the bragging rights.

“I am looking forward to it, the big derby games are what we are all in football for. The juices start flowing, the adrenaline gets going, and let’s enjoy the occasion.”

Wednesday host second-placed United at Hillsborough on Monday, sat just six points off the play-offs after a seven-game unbeaten run.

With 12 games remaining, gatecrashing the play-offs still remains unlikely.

“We have taken some small steps, but that is all it is really,” said Bruce, who took over at Hillsborough on February 1. “I am delighted with how the results have gone.

“The players are tuning in to what we are trying to achieve, and it’s happened quite quickly, which is always nice. When it doesn’t happen quickly, then it becomes a problem.

“I think people are realistic enough, it is only small steps. We have only just arrived in the building, there’s a big summer ahead.

“We haven’t given hope (this season), we can’t, and we will just carry on. We are certainly better than we were a couple of months ago.

“But how often do we see that, a new manager arrives, fresh ideas, and results go. That’s why unfortunately clubs change managers too frequently, there’s usually an effect.

“Two weeks ago we were 12 (points off the top six), was that the end after Rotherham? But within two weeks we are talking about it again.

“That’s the beauty of the Championship. No disrespect to Sheffield United or Norwich, but would you have said would they be competing at the top end of the Championship, I don’t think they were the bookies’ favourites.

“There’s always a surprise and anybody can beat anybody. “There’s not a gulf in class, like there is in the Premier League, it’s that consistency level you need to find in the Championship.

“We have 12 games to go. We are hitting a good period of form, but can we continue it? We have got some big games coming up.

“We have given ourselves a little chance, and it’s got everyone excited. The big thing for me, is it’s small steps, that’s all we have done so far.”

So does Bruce expect a tight, nervous derby on Monday night?

“Derbies are tense and nervous, everybody is frightened of making a mistake,” he said

“Everybody is on edge, that’s the derby. How often do you see it in a big game?

“We just saw it at the weekend, two of the big teams in the Premier League - Manchester United and Liverpool - it wasn’t the greatest spectacle, was it? How often do you see it in a cup final, you are looking forward to the game, then it is a damp squib.

“It’s all about one thing, getting a result for your supporters, so they go to work the next morning in a better frame of mind than the opposing team. It means a lot to the supporters.”

The Blades won 4-2 at Hillsborough last season, but the two subsequent meetings at Bramall Lane ended in 0-0 draws.

Bruce added: “I hope it’s a really good spectacle. My experience tells me, it never usually is.

“Although I witnessed one here last year, which was a decent game, but littered with mistakes.”