Steve Bruce likely to become new coach of South Korea
STEVE Bruce is in line to become the national coach of South Korea as he looks to take a break from club management following the end of his 2½-year reign at Sunderland.
Bruce was sacked by Sunderland this month, despite guiding them to only their third top-10 finish in the top flight last season in more than 50 years.
Supporters had lost patience with the former Manchester United captain following a poor start to the season and a run of just three home wins in 2011. Although Bruce retained the support of influential director Niall Quinn, the club’s American owner, Ellis Short, decided a change was needed to stop the team sliding into an unexpected relegation battle.
Short’s close business links with Korea have opened the door for Bruce to possibly become national coach.
The billionaire has spoken highly of Bruce and introduced him to key members of the country’s Football Association during a trip to the Far East in October. Bruce is expected to travel to Seoul to discuss the position early in the new year.
Korea parted company with head coach Cho Kwang-Rae earlier this month following a shock 2-1 World Cup qualifying defeat by Lebanon and are now keen to appoint a foreign coach.
South Korea have enjoyed success in the past with foreign help, most notably the Dutchman Guus Hiddink, who guided them to the semi-finals of the 2002 World Cup, but also his countrymen Dick Advocaat and Pim Verbeek.
Telegraph Sport understands Bruce is interested in a new type of managerial challenge after spells with Huddersfield, Sheffield United, Crystal Palace, Birmingham City, Wigan and Sunderland.
The alternative for the 50 year-old would be to wait for another Premier League position to open up, with both Bolton’s Owen Coyle and Blackburn’s Steve Keen under pressure.
But while the Geordie is itching to get back into work after a brief break he believes a move into international management is an interesting one after so long on the club circuit, particularly given the strength of the South Korea side compared to its Asian rivals.
Should Bruce, who signed the South Korea striker Ji Dong-Wong for Sunderland in the summer, accept the job he will be expected to secure qualification for the World Cup in Brazil in 2014 with the Red Devils’ next game against Kuwait at the end of February.
South Korea are top of their group, although the defeat to Lebanon means they only lead on goal difference and will need to win that game on Feb 29 to be certain of reaching the next stage of the qualification process as group winners.