Steve Bruce salutes Wigan Athletic - past and present

Steve Bruce paid a glowing tribute to Wigan Athletic - past and present - after returning in midweek with West Brom.

The 61-year-old, who enjoyed two spells in charge at Wigan under Dave Whelan, admitted his side put in their worst performance of the campaign in the 1-1 draw at the DW.

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However, he gave Latics credit for making life difficult for their opponents - especially on the back of Saturday's 5-1 thumping by Burnley.

Steve Bruce during his time with LaticsSteve Bruce during his time with Latics
Steve Bruce during his time with Latics
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"We knew Wigan would have a backlash from the weekend, and I have to say 'well done' to them," he said.

"They showed a great reaction to where they were at the weekend, and we found it difficult.

"They were determined, aggressive, put it forward, and asked a few questions of us."

When asked whether he thought his old club had enough about them to be competitive throughout the season, he added: "The way they competed, absolutely.

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"They've retained the spirit they had last year, they're a handful when they play like they did tonight, they go back to front.

"If they play like that, I'm sure they stand a good chance."

Bruce also reminisced about being back at the club he believes provided him with his best ever side as a manager.

"I had a great time here, over two spells," he said.

"I had a great chairman, a great owner, who built this fantastic don't get too many of them...a great man.

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"This was his life and his joy, and he was a fantastic man to work for.

"For that, I'll always remember and I'll always be grateful.

"And I had some team and all, by the way...arguably the best team I've ever had...until bloody Man United, and Tottenham, and all the rest of them came and bought them all...the b******s!

"It was some team...with (Antonio) Valencia, (Wilson) Palacios, (Emile) Heskey, (Hugo) Rodallega, (Paul) Scharner, (Chris) Kirkland...such a good side."

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Bruce’s first spell at Wigan came at the end of the 2000-02 campaign, before he was headhunted by Crystal Palace.

He was lured back from Birmingham in November 2007 – for a world record compensation figure (£3million) for a manager.

After steering Latics to a 11th-placed finish in 2008-09 – having been European challengers in January before crucial player sales - he moved on to Sunderland.