Bruce Can Make Wigan a 'Fighting Team' Says Whelan

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By Ian Herbert

The Wigan Athletic chairman, Dave Whelan, will fly in from Barbados this morning to be reunited with the man whose services, he yesterday confirmed, have been secured to turn Wigan Athletic into a "fighting team" in the Premier League.

Though there are a few formalities to resolve today, talks with Bruce at the JJB yesterday ended with an agreement which will result in him arriving immediately, followed in around a month by his assistant, Eric Black, who will stay in temporary charge at St Andrew's until Christmas to allow the proposed takeover of the club by the Hong Kong business Carson Yeung. The deadline for the takeover has been extended to 23 December, but Whelan expects Black at the JJB by the turn of the year to work with Bruce, the man he first signed as Wigan's manager for a six-week spell at the end of the 2000-01 season.

"When Paul Jewell decided he was not going to come back I was disappointed but Steve Bruce is the guy we wanted," Whelan said yesterday. "I'm delighted we've got him, I think he's a big loss for Birmingham and a big signing for Wigan Athletic - one of the best young managers in the land. Under Steve Bruce we know Wigan will be a fighting team."

Whelan confirmed that Wigan will pay Birmingham 3m compensation as part of the deal, on top of the 2m per year he is paying him to swap one relegation battle for another. "What he earns he deserves," Whelan said of Bruce's four-year contract. …