Steve Bruce was managing at Aston Villa in the Championship, one level below the English Premier League, when a cabbage was thrown at him from the stands before a 3-3 draw against last-place Preston North End.
“Certainly for someone like him, I’m surprised he knew what a cabbage was,” Bruce said of the cabbage-thrower, which is a weird thing to have said because 1. iI’s not necessary to know what something is in order to huck it toward a lousy soccer coach, and 2. It’s just … a cabbage. “I find the whole thing hugely disrespectful. … I will battle on. That’s always been my philosophy until told otherwise.”
The next day, Villa told Bruce otherwise, and fired him.
Wednesday, Bruce lost another job, this time as manager of Newcastle United, after going winless in eight games to start the Premier League season… and clearly the cabbage incident is still with him.
“By the time I got to Newcastle, I thought I could handle everything thrown at me,” Bruce told The Telegraph. “But it has been very, very tough. To never really be wanted, to feel that people wanted me to fail, to read people constantly saying I would fail, that I was useless, a fat waste of space, a stupid, tactically inept cabbage head or whatever. And it was from day one.”
Bruce has a history of blaming fans for losing his job. When he got the axe at Sunderland, he groaned that fans there never accepted him because he grew up a Newcastle fan. In a guest post for Newcastle’s True Faith, when Bruce was hired at the Toon, Daniel Hunter of Sunderland fanzine A Love Supreme wrote, “It will be extremely interesting to see what his excuse will be for his eventual sacking at Newcastle. He can’t blame the fact that he’s from Newcastle this time.”
But it turned out he could still blame the Newcastle fans, a group that does deserve plenty of scorn for so warmly welcoming the club’s new ownership — the Saudi government. Previous owner Mike Ashley was bad, sure, but he never underwrote kidnapping and murder.
The Saudi takeover of Newcastle actually gave Bruce a dignified way to exit. He could’ve said that he was glad not to have to work for such monsters, and echo the words of MP John Nicolson, who said, “I’m trying to imagine what it must be like to be Jamal Khashoggi’s widow, when her husband has been chopped up and murdered… and she sees numpties dancing around in cod-Arabic dresses outside Newcastle United.”
Bruce has managed 1,000 games at Sheffield United, Huddersfield Town, Wigan Athletic, Crystal Palace, Birmingham City, Sunderland, Hull City, Aston Villa, Sheffield Wednesday, and Newcastle. He’s won just 376 of those games, drawn 254, and lost 370. The results are so consistent across the board, his 28-28-41 mark at Newcastle is one win shy of being identical to what he achieved on the other side of the river.
Now he says that he might not want to coach again? Not if anyone competent running a club has anything to say about it, he won’t. Who would want to hire such a waste-of-space cabbage head?