West Bromwich Albion have fired manager Steve Bruce after only eight months in charge.
The 61-year-old former Manchester United defender left after the Baggies’ 1-1 draw with Luton Town at home on Saturday.
This kept them in the Championship relegation zone, 22nd in the league, their lowest place in more than 20 years.
West Brom’s backroom staff of Steve Agnew, Stephen Clemence, and Alex Bruce have also gone, with under-21 coach Richard Beale appointed as acting manager.
Bruce was named manager of the Baggies on 3 February as part of a restructuring at The Hawthorns that included the resignation of head coach Val Ismael, the hiring of Ron Gourlay as chief executive, and club owner and controlling shareholder Guochuan Lai becoming Albion chairman.
Bruce has won promotion from the Championship to the Premier League four times in his 24 years as a manager, twice with Birmingham City and once with Hull City.
But, after taking four months off after a dismal finish to his stint at Newcastle, a position he stated at the time would most likely be his last, he simply failed to rekindle the Albion fire.
In his 32 games as manager, the Baggies won only eight.
The 1-0 loss against Preston on Tuesday was only their fourth in the league this season. However, they have now drawn eight of their last thirteen league games and won only one.
His final game in command was a goalless draw at home against Luton Town, leaving the Baggies without a league win in eight games.
Disgruntled Baggies supporters made their feelings about Bruce’s status at the club known late in the game, with cries of ‘Bruce out’ and ‘you don’t know what you’re doing’ audible throughout The Hawthorns.
Following the game, Bruce maintained his position in the face of continuous calls for his dismissal.
“I’ve been doing this for a very long time. If you’ve been doing it for 1,000 games, you’d want to think you’re an expert “He stated on BBC Radio WM.
“Does hearing ‘you don’t know what you’re doing’ indicate I’m going to leave? The answer is no. Whatever happens above me is up to others to decide, but I will continue until I am convinced otherwise – I am committed to turn the club around.”
The West Brom leadership elected to give the ex-Newcastle, Hull, Aston Villa, and Birmingham manager fewer than two days more in charge.
“The club would like to place on record its thanks to Steve Bruce and his coaching staff for their efforts since arriving in February,” said a statement.
“The process of recruiting a new manager is now under way and an appointment will be confirmed in due course.”
Albion supporters have been incredibly tolerant of their under-achieving football club and its dormant, disinterested, distant ownership.
But when fans’ favourites Brandon Thomas-Asante – an energetic acquisition from League Two – and Grady Diangana were withdrawn towards the end of the Luton game, that tolerance evaporated.
“You don’t know what you’re doing” and “Bruce Out” then rang round the stadium, making the manager’s position untenable.
Bruce insisted to me afterwards that both players were injured, but his tone and air of defiance didn’t quite ring true this time.
Just 11 points from 13 matches this season; seven wins in 30 Championship matches overall tells its own story. He had to go.
Aside from who replaces Bruce, the major concern today is what happens to CEO Ron Gourlay.
He hand-picked Bruce as the sole candidate for the post back in February, which, with the manager’s resignation, now significantly jeopardizes his credibility and authority.
While relief may be the overwhelming sentiment among the great majority of Albion supporters, much work remains to be done to put a once-proud football club back on track.