Why 2012/13 is shaping up to be Steve Bruce's 'Dream Season'

Misfortune for Sunderland and Wolves combined with success for Hull City means Steve Bruce could end the season as the most content man in football.

Football management is not a profession for those who value their reputations, just ask Steve McClaren, who went from a man who led Middlesbrough to the Europa League Final, to a national villain for his failure with England to qualify for Euro 2008.

Last season Bruce was the first Premier League manager to be axed, when he was given the chop in late Autumn by Sunderland.

His record at the Black Cats had been disappointing, and never really recovered from the 5-1 mauling by Newcastle months before. Despite spending millions in the summer of 2011, he failed to quickly gel the players and fan unrest coupled with poor results saw the board make the decision so sack him.

They appointed Martin O'Neill and the results were instantaneous. The 'new manager bounce' saw O'Neill take Sunderland on a winning streak and transform the side into one of the most exciting in the league.

As O'Neill took Sunderland to new heights, it only intensified the perception that Bruce had done a poor job, and his reputation took a hit with every win  his former side picked up.

By time February came around, his reputation was so low that when the Wolves job became available, he was a favoured appointment at Molineux, only for fans to protest against such a move.

Fear of a backlash saw both Wolves and Bruce back away from each other, and they ended up stuck with Terry Connor instead, and instant relegation.

Fast forward little over 12 months, after that nightmare season for Bruce, and the magical roundabout of football really could not be going any better for him.

Wolves are stuck in the relegation zone in the Championship, heading for financial disaster in League One, wishing they had gone for the 'safe pair of hands' that the former Manchester United defender is.

Sunderland have just dispensed with the services of O'Neill, who encountered similar problems to Bruce after his initial success - failing to inspire the players and pick up consistent wins - and lie just one point off the relegation zone.

Should they fall out of the trapdoor into the Championship, they are likely to be passed on the way up by Hull City... managed by none other than Steve Bruce.

Bruce has steadily been rebuilding his reputation at Hull, realising he needed to take a step down to move forward if he was to get straight back into the game.

Hull currently lie in second, odds on for an automatic promotion spot after results at the weekend went their way - upsetting the predictions at the start of the season which backed them for the playoffs at best.

If the season were to end right now, Steve Bruce would probably be the most content man in football with the way it has panned out, and come the end of the campaign, there is every chance it will remain that way.

image: © vagueonthehow

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