Blues counting cost of Wigan’s Brucie bonus

STEVE BRUCE is as good as certain to be a Premier League manager again next season. His former employers should take note of that, for he might yet achieve it at their expense, and the final cost could run to millions of pounds.

Bruce kept his emotions tightly under wraps after a result which all but banished any lingering Wigan fears of the drop, while leaving struggling Birmingham with plenty still to do.

Given the bitterness Bruce still harbours towards his former employers after his acrimonious departure from St Andrews last November, the Latics boss was well entitled to gloat over this victory.

Instead, it was two-goal hero Ryan Taylor who offered an insight. “You could sense it with the boss during the week. He really wanted the win against his old club, as any manager would,” said Taylor.

“So we knew what this game was all about. It was a massive six-pointer and we knew if we won we would edge that bit closer to safety.”

Another Taylor, Birmingham defender Martin, had other issues on his mind after returning to Premier League action for the first-time since his infamous tackle on Arsenal’s Eduardo six weeks ago put the Croatian in hospital with a shattered left leg.

Taylor has had to cope with criticism, regrets, self-doubt and even internet death-threats since the incident. “At first, it was hard to concentrate on the football again,” he said. “My team-mates have been really good, as you’d expect. They’ve seen me every day and they’ve kept me concentrating on my football, which is important. Mentally, I am now absolutely fine.

“I’ve heard Eduardo is back on track too and hopefully he can get back playing as soon as possible. Everyone will feel a lot better for that.”

Birmingham, difficult to beat at home, have become a soft touch away. Wigan won far too comfortably with a goal in each half, and Birmingham’s cause was hardly helped by the first-half sending-off of skipper Damien Johnson for a two-footed lunge on Kevin Kilbane.

WIGAN (4-4-2): Kirkland 6, Melchiot 7, Scharner 7, Boyce 6, Kilbane 7, Valencia 8, Skoko 6, (Figueroa 90, 5), Palacios 7, Taylor 7 (Sibierski 85, 5), Bent 6, Heskey 6 (King 88, 5).

Subs Not Used: Pollitt, Hagen.

BIRMINGHAM (4-4-2): Maik Taylor 6, Kelly 6, Martin Taylor 6 (Parnaby 72, 6), Jaidi 6, Murphy 7, Larsson 6, Muamba 5, Johnson 5, McSheffrey 5 (Nafti 63, 5), Zarate 5, Forssell 5 (Jerome 67, 5).

Subs Not Used: Doyle, O’Connor.

REFEREE: Mike Dean (Wirrall) 7: His appearance might have raised Martin Taylor’s eyebrows, but Dean officiated well and had no choice but to send off Johnson.

MATCH RATING: *** What a strange side Birmingham are: spiky and in-your-face at St Andrews, as meek and mild as lambs when they travel away.

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