Former Birmingham City and Sunderland star Seb Larsson has revealed that Steve Bruce’s hands-on approach makes the Newcastle United boss different from other managers.
The Corbridge-born boss has come under heavy fire from supporters at St James’ Park after a difficult start to his tenure in charge, the Magpies suffering a 1-0 defeat to Arsenal before a disappointing 3-1 loss at Norwich City.
Larsson, who played 74 games under Bruce at both Birmingham and Newcastle’s fierce rivals Sunderland, says that Bruce’s strengths lie in man-management and that his behind-the-scenes approach makes him stand out among his managerial counterparts.
He told the Chronicle: “He is a very good man-manager. He has got a lot of experience – not only as a manager in the Premier League and the Championship – but also as a brilliant player. That definitely helps him be a good man-manager, understanding how players tick in certain situations and being able to get the best out of them.
“He was quite hands-on on the training ground. He was always out there. I have had a lot of managers who wouldn’t be out there or would turn up halfway through the session. As a player you always want the manager on the training ground because it makes you always want to impress.
“He is not a manager who I would say he does not know what he is doing tactically. I would say Steve is a very good tactical manager.”
Bruce might have impressed his former players with his coaching on the training ground but the only important thing now is that he gets the best out of his current stars. Bruce has had to take on an almost impossible task by replacing Rafa Benitez at St James’ Park, the Spaniard quite clearly a manager who overachieved with the squad at his disposal. The early signs suggest that the new man in charge is going to struggle to make the Magpies as difficult to break down this season, with their defensive resolution perhaps the defining feature under Benitez. Bruce is going to have to call upon every bit of his experience to take his squad to a level which can survive in the Premier League, for at the moment they look a long way off the required standard. He may already be hands-on in training but he might have to spend a little bit longer with certain individuals to really get the best out of them.