Ex-Newcastle United, Sunderland & Aston Villa man backed to make shock return to former club

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Steve Bruce could return to a club that he left nearly 40 years ago

Former Newcastle United and Sunderland boss Steve Bruce is the bookmakers favourite to make a sensational return to management with one of his former clubs. Bruce has been out of football since October last year when he was dismissed from his post as West Brom boss after a run of one win from his side’s opening 13 Championship matches.

The ex-Manchester United captain, who has managed over 1000 games in club football, also served as Newcastle manager during Mike Ashley’s final two seasons as Magpies owner. In that time, Bruce guided the Magpies to 13th and 12th place finishes in the league, but was dismissed by the new owners PIF in October 2021 after a disastrous start to the season which saw Newcastle fail to win any of their opening eight matches in the 2021/22 season.

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After his Newcastle departure, Bruce claimed he was keen to retire from management in the near future, before surprisingly taking over as West Brom boss. The three-time Premier League winner retracted this statement in a recent interview on Simon Jordan’s Up Front podcast and claims he is determined to return to management in the future.

This has fuelled speculation of a nostalgic return to Gillingham, where Bruce kicked off his playing career back in 1979. Bruce was an integral part of Gillingham’s team for five seasons and his form in defence caught the eye of top-tier Norwich City who signed the player in 1984.

It has been nearly 40 years since Bruce’s departure from the Priestfield Stadium, but he has quickly emerged as the bookmakers favourite to take charge of the Kent based outfit. Gillingham are currently in the promotion places in League TWo after a strong start to the campaign, but the hierarchy made the surprise decision to sack manager Neil Harris after a run of four defeats in seven matches.

A Gillingham statement explained that the club has decided “to go in a different direction” and added: “The club will begin the process of identifying a new manager to take the team forward.”

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The Gills were taken over by new ownership in December last year and owner Brad Galinson has spoken of his ambitions to win promotion this season after a 17th place finish last term. Bruce was not initially placed on the next Gillingham manager market but has since burst into the frame as the clear 1/2 favourite. The experienced manager has won promotion on four occasions in his career, this came twice with Birmingham and twice with Hull City.

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