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On This Day (15th June 2009): Sunderland boss Steve Bruce eyes £20m swoop for exciting trio

Brucey was, according to reports, eyeing a “£20m swoop” for this trio of players in order to bolster Sunderland’s squad, and chances of progression!

Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Steve Bruce had his feet firmly under the table after arriving on Wearside from Wigan.

The coffee was brewing, the bacon butties were fresh, his sleeves were rolled up, and he was ready to start the rebuild of a Sunderland side that had escaped relegation in the previous season after a period of uncertainty in the midst of Roy Keane’s departure.

Sunderland’s core needed quality added to it if we were going to challenge further up the table, and Bruce wasted no time in identifying his key targets.

His midfield anchorman at Wigan, Lee Cattermole, was firmly in his sights.

“I obviously really enjoyed last year and there’s a lot of changes at Wigan, I think we have lost our manager and our staff now”, said Cattermole, who was asked about his future whilst with England U21s - scoring that night in a 2-1 win over Finland.

“I’m going to concentrate on this tournament and get back and see what the situation is with Wigan and meet the new manager and see how it goes.’’

Soccer - UEFA Under 21 European Championship - Group B - England v Finland - Orjans vall Photo by John Walton - PA Images via Getty Images

Cattermole’s price tag was said to be around £7m - twice what Wigan had paid Middlesbrough for him just a year earlier.

Richard Dunne, the Republic of Ireland international defender who had spent nine years at Manchester City, was also at the top of Bruce’s wanted list - but he faced stiff competition from Stoke City and Aston Villa, the latter of which eventually bagged the then 29-year-old.

The jewel in the crown, however, was Tottenham striker Darren Bent.

Sunderland needed to replace Djibril Cisse as he returned back to Marseille following his loan, and Bent - who had fallen out of favour with Harry Redknapp at White Hart Lane - was identified as the man to score the brunt of the goals for Bruce’s side.

Wheeler-dealer Redknapp wanted £12m for the English forward, but reports at the time suggested Sunderland were only prepared to spend half of that.

Middle ground was found and, after some tough negotiations that spilled out into the public, with Bent tweeting some derogatory stuff about Spurs chairman Daniel Levy, the striker eventually ended up on Wearside - and enjoying a whirlwind stint at the club in which he scored 36 goals in 18 months before doing the dirty and ditching us for... Aston Villa.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - West Bromwich Albion v Tottenham Hotspur - The Hawthorns Photo by Nick Potts - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images

These were some big names for Sunderland fans to get excited about, and proof that billionaire owner Ellis Short’s investment into the football club was deadly serious.

Bruce wouldn’t have taken the job had he not been promised significant funds to bolster the side, and he did, to his credit, end up building a very decent team.

It was important that we threw our weight around that summer, not only to ensure we kicked on in the next season, but to remind other teams that we were a big club in waiting, and that eventually, someone would unlock our obvious potential.

Would Steve Bruce be that man?


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