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On This Day (1 December 2011): Eric Black named caretaker manager after Bruce is sacked

As supporters said “bye bye!” to Brucey, his assistant took over as caretaker while the club searched for a replacement in the Sunderland manager’s hotseat.

Photo by AMA/Corbis via Getty Images

The writing had been on the wall for a while when Steve Bruce finally got the chop as Sunderland manager after a horrid run of form.

The atmosphere had grown toxic after a string of poor results, along with Bruce’s determination to convince the media that the club disliked him for his Newcastle roots - not the fact that his team had been underperforming for a considerable amount of time under his reign.

The day previous to this one, Bruce was finally sacked as manager after considerable media speculation that his job was on the line. Sunderland chairman Ellis Short released a statement confirming the news, stating that the results ‘were simply not good enough’.

It is my job as chairman to act in the best interests of our football club at all times and I can assure everyone that this is not a decision I have taken lightly.

Sadly results this season have simply not been good enough and I feel the time is right to make a change.

Steve has acted with honesty and integrity throughout, which is testament to the character and commitment he has shown during his time at Sunderland.

I would like to personally place on record my thanks to him for his significant contribution to our football club over the past two and a half years and everyone here at Sunderland naturally wishes him the very best for the future.

I would also like to thank our fans, who have endured a trying start to the season. Their support continues to be the driving force behind our club and is vital as we now look to the future.

08/08/09 PRE SEASON FRIENDLY.HEARTS V SUNDERLAND (1-1).TYNECASTLE - EDINBURGH.Sunderland manager Steve Bruce and assistant Eric Black..... (Photo by Jeff Holmes\SNS Group via Getty Images) Photo by Jeff Holmes\SNS Group via Getty Images

With Bruce departing, we looked to the future, and to who was going to take over as manager of the team. With rumours suggesting many names, it was Bruce’s assistant Eric Black who was placed in charge, with a game against Wolverhampton Wanderers just around the corner.

As it turned out, Martin O’Neill was the man chosen to take over from Bruce just hours before the game, but Black still took the team on the day as he’d done all the preparation leading into it.

Black’s appointment was expected to be short lived considering O’Neill was likely to bring in his own team - but in fairness to the Scot, he made plenty of changes and had a go, unlike his predecessor who had lost the plot by the time he got the boot.

Sunderland looked a lot better for large parts of the game.

We took the lead through a great goal from Kieran Richardson - but we could have been even further ahead had Seb Larsson not missed a penalty.

Larsson’s spot-kick was saved by Wolves keeper Wayne Hennessey and Wolves took advantage to level inside 30 seconds as Steven Fletcher’s header beat Kieren Westwood.

The momentum was with Wolves, and Mick McCarthy’s men confirmed only their fourth league win of the season as Fletcher fired low past Westwood with nine minutes left.

That was it for Black in his short stint as the main man at the Stadium of Light - and despite a good career as a coach, he hasn’t gone into management full time yet, nor is he likely to.

O’Neill’s impending arrival ensured fans didn’t dwell on the Wolves defeat for long - he was about to sweep us all away in a wave of (albeit short-lived) euphoria.


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