Steve Bruce Effect: The Men Who Have Managed English Football’s Greatest Rivals

Steve Bruce Effect: The Men Who Have Managed English Football’s Greatest Rivals
07:05, 02 Aug 2019

Despite being a Geordie and a lifelong Newcastle fan, news of Steve Bruce’s appointment at St James’ Park was hardly met with wild enthusiasm among Toon fans as the former Manchester United defender was brought in to replace the outgoing Rafa Benitez.

But it’s not just the prospect of another season of limited spending while trying to avoid dropping out of the Premier League which appears to have disappointed the Newcastle faithful, their new boss also used to manage bitter rivals Sunderland.

And this isn’t a first for Bruce, who managed rival clubs in Birmingham too – having taken charge of Birmingham City from 2001-07 before going to Aston Villa in 2016 in a career which has seen him at the helm of no fewer than 10 clubs.

However, he is not the only gaffer to have managed one team before moving on to an arch-rival at a later date with some of the most recognisable names in the game doing just that down the years.

Harry Redknapp - Bournemouth, Southampton and Portsmouth 

Not content with managing two rival South Coast clubs, Harry Redknapp actually completed the hat trick having been in charge of Southampton, Portsmouth and Bournemouth in a long and illustrious career.

He began his managerial career at the Cherries in 1983 before taking Portsmouth to the dizzy heights of the Premier League in 2003 only to join rivals Southampton in December 2004 after resigning from his post at Fratton Park weeks earlier; but after failing to keep the Saints in the top flight in 2005 he completed a sensational U-turn by re-joining Portsmouth before going to Tottenham in October 2008.

Alex McLeish - Birmingham City and Aston Villa

After suffering the pain of relegation from the Premier League with Birmingham City in 2011, Alex McLeish did the unthinkable and crossed the city to take charge of rivals Aston Villa just weeks after the end of the season.

Needless to say the move was far from popular but McLeish’s time at Villa Park was short lived, with his contract being terminated in May 2012 after they finished just two points above the relegation zone in the 2011/12 campaign.

George Graham - Arsenal and Tottenham

Having taken charge of Arsenal in 1986 and led the Gunners to two league titles in 1989 and 1991 Graham was sacked as Gunners boss in February 1995 after it emerged he had benefited to the tune of £400,000 from the transfers that took John Jensen and Pal Lydersen to the club in 1992.

However, he wasn’t out of the game for long and after having his nine-year spell at Arsenal ended abruptly, Graham ended up managing their north London rivals Tottenham three years later, taking charge at White Hart Lane in 1998.

 Brian Clough - Derby County and Nottingham Forest

One of the greatest managers of all time, Brian Clough was in charge of rivals Derby and Nottingham Forest for long periods during his illustrious career, two clubs where he enjoyed probably his most successful spells in the game.

In charge of the Rams from 1967 to 1973 Clough got them promoted to the top flight before guiding them to the First Division title in the 1971/72 season along with trusty assistant Peter Taylor. After brief spells at Leeds United and Brighton, the duo moved to Nottingham Forest in 1975 and won the First Division in 1978 as well as European Cups in 1979 and 1980.

Sam Allardyce - Bolton, Blackburn, Newcastle and Sunderland

Like Bruce, Allardyce managed both North East clubs after being made Magpies boss in May 2007 before leaving his role in January 2008 after a bad run of results. He then went to rivals Sunderland in October 2015 and managed to steer the Black Cats back into the Premier League that season.

Big Sam has also coached rival teams in Lancashire, having taken the reins at Blackburn Rovers 18 months after resigning from Bolton Wanderers in April 2007, the club where he made his name in management.

Danny Wilson - Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield United

Having enjoyed great success as a player for Sheffield Wednesday, Danny Wilson took over the managerial hot seat at Hillsborough in 1998 only to be relieved of his duties in March 2000 as the club were relegated from the Premier League at the end of the 1999/00 season.

But the journeyman manager found himself back in the Steel City in 2011 when he took over at Wednesday’s bitter rivals Sheffield United, though perhaps not surprisingly, Blades fans never took to the former Owls player and manager and failure to get the club promoted to the Premier League saw him depart Bramall Lane just two years later.