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Steve Bruce: How Man Utd move almost fell through

Newcastle United boss Steve Bruce admits he almost missed out on a move to Manchester United when leaving Norwich City almost 32 years ago.

Bruce recalled his first day at the club in 1987, arriving from Norwich City for £800,000.

"I remember Sir Alex (Ferguson) picked me up from the airport with my good lady, not many managers would do that now," he said.

"He took me off to my medical and kept asking, 'What's up with your knee?'. I didn't know I had a problem! But it was in my medical records. Now, with scans, I'm not sure I would have passed it.

"What got me through was them looking at my playing record and seeing I'd missed hardly any games. So they discovered this problem with my knee - and looking back, later on in life, they were right!"

They need not have worried. Bruce made more than 300 league appearances, not that he envisaged getting much game-time on his first day.

"I walked in and it was Bryan Robson, Norman Whiteside, Paul McGrath, Gordon Strachan - four years previous I was playing for Gillingham!

"That first training session you realise they are top, top players. You're like, 'Wow'. It was mouthwatering.

"I was trying to replace McGrath, and I'm looking at him thinking, 'Jesus, this isn't possible!'. I was in awe of the place but was determined to enjoy it.

"I had all the s*** for seven years at Gillingham, playing at Scunthorpe and Grimsby away. So I was going to making a fist of it.

"But I remember my debut, Portsmouth away. In the old dressing-room at Fratton Park there was a pillar that stood alone in the corner. When I came in at half-time there were about eight players sitting around this pillar.

"I sat on my own on the other side, thinking, 'Why are they all sitting there?'. We weren't playing well. Fergie came in, and he started. I soon understand why they were all hiding behind that pillar!"

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Paul Vegas

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