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Steve Bruce Leaves Sunderland: Reflections On His Time At The Club

Come in Steve Bruce, your time is up.
Come in Steve Bruce, your time is up.

Well, the (for me) inevitable news was confirmed today. As near enough to 39 years ago one Geordie manager arrived on Wearside and went down in Sunderland folklore, a man who hoped to emulate that success, Steve Bruce, has parted ways with our club.

Sadly, the way things have gone of late it would have been no surprise to some that Steve Bruce held on to his job, and come out with the same old clap-trap of "I'll turn it round" etc. Where as for others, his position is untenable.

It was indeed confirmed by the club today that he will be seeking new employment however, and for me, it was the right decision...

Whether you commend or condemn the chanting towards the end of the home defeat to Wigan Athletic, one thing that can't be argued is that his relationship with the fans was completely over. That defeat was the breaking point for many folks, including myself.

Steve Bruce had asked for more time repeatedly, insistent that he could turn things around sooner rather than later, but in the middle of a crucial run of games against Fulham, Wigan, Wolves and Blackburn, a minimum target of nine points was set by fans. Perhaps even seven points if things go particularly bad, but to be halfway into that run with one point from a possible six was almost beyond comprehension.

There were also broadsides fired at the fans during Bruce's reign. The now infamous quotes about having too higher expectations, an obsession with our neighbours to the north, and notably accusing us all of entering into a mass hysteria. Only following Franco Di Santo's injury time winner for Wigan last weekend did Bruce truly feel the brunt of some mass hysteria.

I think it's also fairly obvious Bruce was losing touch with the fans with the first of those comments, the one about expectations. I don't know one fan who "thought we should be in Europe and winning cups" to quote the man himself. All most sane SAFC fans wanted was a team to be proud of. Three home wins in the calendar year tells it's own story.

You could see from looking over at the bench every now and then that Bruce cut an exasperated figure. Moving Jack Colback and Sebastian Larsson to fullbacks whilst sending on Ji Dong-Won to seemingly run around a lot in the final few minutes of the previously mentioned Wigan game seemed to show a man completely out of ideas.

Which makes things all the worse when this is now very much his team. It's an easy, and often trotted out excuse for managers use that the team isn't performing because it isn't his. 15 of the 29 squad numbered players (if you include Asamoah Gyan) are his own signings, not including the likes of Marcos Angleri and Matt Kiligallon who remain in limbo, nor does it include the likes of Ryan Noble, Jack Colback, Jordan Cook and Louis Laing who were all given debut's under Bruce. John Egan has also been drafted in on occasions without actually playing yet.

This is now his team, and it isn't performing. Many other players have come and gone under Bruce too, it appears he's tried everything possible to get us going, however it's just not happened, and change is necessary. A new approach, a new voice in the dressing room to perhaps turn things around.

For all Bruce's foibles, there were some good times let's not forget. The 3-0 win at Stamford Bridge will live long in the memory, whilst also there were stand-out performances against Wigan last season, and Tottenham Hotspur too. Games against Manchester United have never been tighter. Without doubt there is progression from the Roy Keane Era.

Many people point to the losses of, and the failure to replace the likes of Darren Bent, Asamoah Gyan and Danny Welbeck as a key failing of Bruce, but it's worth remembering he was the one who brought them in, and as much as we may dislike some of them now as individuals, they were on there day top quality players.

There's also the likes of John O'Shea, Wes Brown, Nicklas Bendtner, John Mensah and Sulley Muntari as proof that Sunderland can attract some top names, and part of that comes down to the manager.

For a long long time, Sunderland were seen as a yo-yo team. Niall Quinn and Roy Keane saw to it that we got into the Premier League and remained there (with a little help from Ricky Sbragia). A proven Premier League side.

Steve Bruce came in later as the best calibre of manager we could attract at the time to a team which was perennially near the darker end of the Premier League with aspirations of achieving more.

Bruce went on to take us to tenth. By hook or by crook, tenth is tenth, and a solid achievement. He brought in a much higher class of player, however it seems now that we're ready for the next logical step. Someone who can take us to the top ten once more, and keep us there consistently.

The next appointment could be a key one in our future, if we're to avoid regression. I hope Ellis Short knows what he's doing.

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