When Steve Bruce was originally linked to the Sunderland job, there was a bit of dissension in the ranks. After all, he was a mag. And not a Tony Blair ‘sit on the Gallowgate End’ type of mag, but a fully paid up, professional pie-eating, gravy stained mag.
Every time he appeared in the dugout at the Stadium of Light, he was roundly booed and greeted with a chorus reminding him that he was, in fact, just a fat Geordie bastard.
But he was appointed by St Niall, said all the right things – playing up his north east roots – and, well, he was appointed by St Niall. So the majority of us got on board pretty quickly.
As is his wont, Bruce immediately jetted to Portugal for a few weeks of R&R before getting settled in behind his AOL desk, but that didn’t stop the rumour mill from churning out a host of names that Bruce was interested in.
And top of the list were a few of his former Wigan charges – Lee Cattermole and Titus Bramble were mentioned in dispatches, as was Austrian defender Paul Scharner.
Known for a penchant for a ridiculous hair style Scharner had joined Wigan three years earlier and excelled for the Latics, who had a decent team at the time.
However the £6m-rated player didn’t seem too enthralled by the prospect of a move to the Stadium of Light – or linking back up with Bruce.
There has been interest from clubs in England and Germany. I can’t see myself joining Sunderland.
They are certainly not an improvement on Wigan. Besides I did not get on too well with Bruce’s style of play.
So, that put an end to that. Scharner stayed at Wigan for a year – finishing eight points behind Sunderland – before signing for Premier League West Brom.
Meanwhile, Quinny was still busy extolling Bruce’s virtues – getting the waverers over the line…
He told the Northern Echo:
We’ve got some players with a lot of promise and potential and I think Steve will make men out of them. We will shuffle the deck this summer but we haven’t started a major clear out or anything like that.
Player selection is down to Steve Bruce but we’re confident we will keep all of our best players. If our players have anything about them they will want to stay at Sunderland and be a part of what is happening here.
This is an opportunity for them to take another big step forward in their careers under Steve Bruce.
And, in typical Quinny fashion, he was bigging up a couple of players who he felt would go on to be full internationals that season (cough *Cliff Byrne* cough).
For those who are on the fringes of international football they should be looking at becoming full internationals next season. I’m talking about Anton Ferdinand and Kieran Richardson. They are two players for example who will really get the bit between the teeth and Steve will be great for their careers. Let’s see where it will go.
And, to be fair, the next two seasons were some of the best we’ve had for a couple of decades…