When Steve Bruce was named Sunderland manager in 2009, a certain segment of the club's fans had a problem with having a manager from Newcastle, opposite side of the bitter Tyne-Wear derby. And when the club sank down towards the relegation zone after significant investment during the 2011 summer transfer window, that problem was exacerbated to the point where Bruce was sacked in November.
Of course, Martin O'Neill came in and immediately turned the club's fortunes around, bringing them back to the top half of the table, but Steve Bruce believes he was forced out not because of abysmal results, but because of that tribal hatred.
From the Newcastle Evening Chronicle:
"I must admit that being a Geordie came back to haunt me," said Bruce, now ready to open his heart on a painful experience in an exclusive interview.
"The hatred I suffered was unbelievable. It was brutal, it really was.
"In fairness it was a minority of Sunderland fans who abused me but it was way over the top and very hurtful.
"I can't change my upbringing. I am who I am and proud of it. But I paid a big price. [...]
"I had to batten down the hatches and lie low. I didn't go out to my local pub.
"I didn't want to invite abuse."
The man couldn't go to his local pub! Well, he didn't want to go to his local pub. The horror! Sure, with the money he was making he probably could've just built his own pub inside his house like Peter in that one episode of Family Guy and invited only people who would be nice to him, but this is still an unspeakable travesty.
Steve: Knowing football fans, you probably did receive some terrible abuse, but if you want to illustrate just how bad it was, the pub example probably isn't the best one to use.
- Steve Bruce