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December 3 2023 1.32am

Kick by Kick with Joseph O'Shea

March 3 2004

Steve Bruce

Steve Bruce

Less than two and a half years ago, a brilliant young manager (yep Bruce) pushed a mediocre squad to seven wins on the trot and promotion hopes were high.

A month later, the chameleon had walked out on a three year contract to make an "emotional" and successful return to St Andrews, leaving bitterness and mid-table mediocrity in his wake.

Bruce was silenced by Simon Jordan's High Court injunction, but before leaving he bemoaned a broken promise and lack of ambition on the chairman's part because he would not sanction the extortionate half million pound purchase of 33-year-old Steve


A poor excuse to hide using Palace as a stepping stone, perhaps, but Bruce interpreted the refusal as a warning sign, that cash-flow would stop him fulfilling his ambitions in SE25.

With that in mind, Reading's recent announcement that they had agreed a transfer fee for Darren Powell could not have come at a worse time.

Having signed Mikele Leigertwood for £155,000 and Mark Hudson on loan, Palace have five centre backs, but the injured Powell is arguably the best of the lot.

It is clear that Dowie, who has personally been helping Powelly's recovery, knew

nothing about the deal. Just two months into an 18 month contract, this development

will worry him and the fans.

I am not suggesting Dowie will walk out, (afterall Bruce had previous at Wigan), but

with his managerless former club Southampton casting admiring glances at his instant success, isn't now the time to back him?

An 18 month contract provides no security for Dowie, who like Bruce, has had to leave his family up North.

Equally Palace have no guarantees that they will keep this gem, beyond his current deal. AJ is set to be offered a double your money extended contract, and the sooner Dowie is offered a similar deal, the better for Palace.

If you can't make it to Selhurst on Saturday as Palace take on Steve Coppell's Reading from 3pm, join me online for the fastest and most colourful text commentary on the web:

Live Croydon Guardian text commentary

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