Writer: Barry Worthington
Date:Wednesday June 3 2009
Wigan Athletic have officially said goodbye to Steve Bruce who has left the bosses chair at the JJB to take up the reins at Premier League rivals Sunderland on a three year deal.
Bruce will be followed up the A1 by backroom staff Eric Black, Keith Bertschin and Nigel Spink leaving Latics needing to fill not only the bosses chair but also that of his support crew.
Latics fans should be grateful to Bruce for turning around the clubs fortunes when it looked certain that relegation was on the cards in the 2007/08 season, he came to the JJB in the November and brought organisation and a steely professionalism to the side that not only stopped the rot but also saw the club put in some impressive performances and climb the table to finish in 14th spot.
Bruce accomplished this with the same squad that Chris Hutchings had struggled with except for one signing, Wilson Palacios, displaying his abilities as a coach to make his side to be difficult to beat and the future looked bright.
The former Birmingham boss made several signings last summer, most notably Lee Cattermole and the now infamous Amr Zaki and the side set off the new season looking the business, but a poor October and back end of the season saw any aspirations of European qualification for next season disappear.
The sale of both Wilson Palacios and Emile Heskey in the January window also had a negative effect on the teams performance`s but serious questions were asked about Bruce`s ability to motivate the team and get them out of their comfort zone with a disastrous run of just one win in the last eight games of the season the Wigan fans finished the season despondent and fearful of the new season and maybe a struggle and relegation battle.
Sunderland fans expecting Steve Bruce to take them on a charge into the top 6 could well be left a little disappointed if his previous exploits with both the Latics and Birmingham City are anything to go by.
Bruce builds a solid defence and a combative midfield and he certainly prefers 4-5-1 to the more attack minded 4-4-2, Sunderland won`t get relegated but they are just as likely to finish the season in 11th or 10th and if Ellis Short is looking for a top half finish for his investment then Sunderland just might be back at the JJB next season trying to prise new boss Roberto Martinez away.
Good luck and goodbye Brucie, thanks for some good memories and the constant 'thats for sure` at the end of each and every interview.
You can listen to the Latics Speyk podcasts now by clicking on the player here:
Date:Wednesday June 3 2009
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