Birmingham City have rejected Colchester United's approach to speak with Eric Black regarding the vacant manager's position at Layer Road, writes Ian Clarkson.
Colchester, who visit St Andrew's on the first day of the season, wanted Birmingham's first-team coach to replace recently-departed Phil Parkinson. However, manager Steve Bruce, who lost Terry Bullivant and John Benson from his backroom staff this summer, is in no mood to part with his trusted ally.
He said: "Colchester approached for Eric and we made our intentions clear, that he wasn't going anywhere, and he's agreed to stay.
"Anyone who has seen him, or has worked with him, knows exactly what he is all about and he's very, very good. I think it's 'in' at the moment - the young, tracksuit manager - after a couple of people have done well, and if any club has done their homework, then they are going to consider Eric."
Black has tasted management at Motherwell and Coventry and held a senior coaching role in the Scottish FA. He was linked with the vacancy at Northampton this summer and with a possible return to Scotland.
But the relationship between Bruce and Black, which is into its third season, is as close at it has ever been according to the former. "Any club needs a bit of stability, and that relationship with my No 2 is vitally important," he said. "I suppose now we are as close as we have ever been because of what happened to us last season and the departure of John Benson.
"I have got a wafer-thin staff but we are a very tight-knit group and I am enjoying having that one-to-one relationship.
"Sometimes you can have too many opinions but when you work together with one other person it's a little bit easier. I am sure some day he will become a No 1, if he wants to be a No 1 that is. He's happy here and I get the impression he is quite excited by the squad we are getting together and the challenge we have of bouncing back after relegation."